Autumn apple tree care by the rules
Winter is the most crucial period for apple trees and you need to survive it with minimal losses. Moreover, this applies to both young apple trees and those that have been living on your site for a dozen or more years. Winter is a cold, piercing wind, severe frost, wet and heavy snow, icy rain, provocative thaws, return cold - all this need to survive the apple trees (and we will help them with this).
In general, the set of measures for caring for the apple tree in the autumn is not new and has been developed for a long time. It includes harvesting a late harvest, collecting and destroying fallen leaves, digging the trunk, feeding, moisture recharging, mulching the trunk, removing lichens and moss from the trunks, cleaning the bark, removing dry and interfering branches, whitewashing, treatment from pests and diseases , closing the hollow and warming of young apple trees.
- Garbage collection and digging near-tree circle of apple trees
- Feeding apple trees
- Water-charging irrigation of apple trees
- Mulching apple trees
- Removal of moss, lichens, bark treatment, hollowing
- Autumn pruning apple tree
- Whitewashing trunks of apple trees
- Caring for an old apple tree
- Warming of apple trees and protection
Garbage collection and digging near-tree circle of apple trees
Let's start by removing all the garbage, leaves, and digging up the near-trunk strip of the apple tree.
The leaves of the apple tree have mostly fallen off, so there is no need for them to lie in the near-trunk lane and produce an infection. After all, each leaf can carry some kind of disease or pest that wants to winter. It is better to send the leaves to the fire, but save the ash from them. She is a good source of potassium and minerals. Next, all garbage (branches, rotten fruit) must be sent to the garbage container. If the branch is large, then it can also be processed into wood ash by burning.
When the tree’s near-trunk circle is clean, you can start digging it carefully by holding a shovel, as we have agreed several times before, not across, but along the roots and not more than 15 cm deep. After digging, it is better to leave the soil loosened, so we can kill wintering pests gathered in the area of the near-trunk circle of the apple tree.
Read more about digging near-trunk circles in our material: Do I need to dig around near-trunk circles of fruit trees?
Feeding apple trees
After a good harvest from the apple trees from which it is already harvested, you can feed them. For this, it is best to use organic fertilizers, such as manure or compost (5-6 kg each for a tree younger than five years old and 1-2 buckets for a more mature tree, which is quite enough).
The fertilizer applied must be evenly distributed over the near-stem circle. A number of gardeners advise adding to these fertilizers also 20-25 g of superphosphate and 15-20 g of potassium sulfate per apple tree younger than five years and twice as much - an apple tree older than this age. At the same time, it is important to apply fertilizers in a dry form, rather than in a dissolved one, they will be more useful in the spring, when active snowmelt begins, and the fertilizers will fall just into the root zone, where they can absorb with moisture and become accessible to the plant.
Important! There should not be any nitrogen in fertilizers in the fall, it can stimulate the growth of the aerial parts, and these shoots will simply freeze in the winter and die.
Top dressing of an apple tree is better to combine with digging of the top layer of the soil. And if you want to fix fertilizers earlier, and dig the soil later, then just sprinkle them on the surface and level them with a rake, trying to close them slightly in this way. After fertilizing, if the weather is very dry, it is advisable to water the apple trees (for plants up to the age of five - a bucket of water, older - two).
Water-charging irrigation of apple trees
By the way, since we started talking about watering, water-charging watering in the autumn is obligatory for the apple tree. It will stimulate the growth of an additional suction root system, due to which the vegetative mass of the apple tree is better saturated with moisture, it will be less afraid of drying out, the soil will freeze more slowly and will not respond to provocative thaws.
Usually, about a hundred liters of water are poured under the apple tree, soaking the soil well. If the apple trees are adults with a spreading crown, then you can pour twice as much (the main thing is that the water is absorbed, and not spread over the area). To this end, stretch the watering for several days. It is advisable to clearly monitor the amount of water poured, do not pour "by eye". If you do not have a water meter, you can use the timer on your phone to detect how long the bucket of water is being filled, and then use this information to determine how much water you poured under the apple tree, given only the time of watering.
Be careful with clay soil, it should not be poured, this can lead to decay of the roots. Consider the weather: if the rain is daily and heavy, then the amount of water can be reduced by a third. Do not pay attention to the fine rain, as it is not capable of wetting the soil deeply. Sandy soils, in order to avoid their erosion and exposure of roots, it is better to water by sprinkling.
You can read more about water-charging irrigation in our material: What is moisture-charging watering and how to use it correctly?
Mulching apple trees
After watering the apple tree, it is quite possible to mulch; as a mulch, you can use anything, even sheets of plywood. The main thing is that you need to remove the mulch in time, as soon as the snow begins to melt, so that the soil warms up well, since the mulch inhibits its heating. It is important that the mulch layer is firmly held in the near-trunk strip and does not fly apart during the first gust of wind.
Removal of moss, lichens, bark treatment, hollowing
Moss and lichens are frequent guests of apple trees, especially those that are of a respectable age. Most of them are formed during cool summers and high humidity. Mosses and lichens do not allow the tree to function normally, it seems to be suffocating, and as a result, either individual branches or the whole tree dry.
Best of all, moss and lichens, as well as processing the bark of an apple tree and closing up a hollow, should be carried out only after the entire foliage has fallen on the plant (or at least 90% of its amount), without waiting for the last leaf to fall.
Mosses and lichens from the apple tree can be removed simply by scraping them or removing them by treatment with iron sulfate. To do this, you need to take 250 g of iron sulfate and dilute it in a bucket of water, then carefully treat the trunk and branches where moss and lichens were found. If this composition is poured on the soil under the tree, then there is nothing to worry about.
Usually, after a week, both mosses and lichens die off and they only need to be cleaned, for which they often use a metal brush. Under the apple tree, you need to spread a film or cloth and collect everything that has crumbled onto it, and then throw it outside the garden, because there can be any infection. After the moss, lichen and the rest of the trunk are cleaned, treat it with copper sulfate by dissolving 300 g of powder in a bucket of water, you can also process the soil.
Next, we go on to embed the hollow on the apple tree, first you need to scrape all the dirt from the hollow to full purity, then close the hollow with ordinary gypsum. And remember, the tree will grow, and the “seal” may pop up, so this operation may have to be repeated later.
Autumn pruning apple tree
In the fall it is desirable to carry out sanitary pruning. To do this, inspect the plant, and all dry, broken shoots and those that grow deep into the crown, leading to its thickening, cut strictly into a ring, followed by a mandatory glossing of sections of garden red or var. Do sawing in dry and clear weather.
Whitewashing trunks of apple trees
It is better to whitewash the trunks of apple trees later, when the risk of rain will be minimal. Whitewashing brings many benefits: protection from sunburn, fungal infection, possibly even pests, from cracking the bark (due to overheating during the day and cooling at night), and it's just beautiful.
Lime or garden paint until the first skeletal branching. Always start whitening from the bottom up so that all places are well stained. If it rains unexpected and untimely, then the whitewashing will have to be repeated.
Against the background of this whole pile of work, we do not forget about harvesting: the late apple trees are ready by this time, so you need to pay attention to them. It is best to collect apples a little immature, then they will be stored longer and must be in rubber gloves, so as not to damage the fruits. Collect the fruits in plastic buckets made of soft plastic and do not throw, but put them in a container carefully. Do not pick the fruits, but turn clockwise so that they break with the stem, then they will lie for a long time. Immediately calibrate apples, select perfect ones and those that have damage. Put the former for storage, and let the latter be recycled.
After collecting the apples, be sure to walk through the garden, collect the whole carrion, and remove all the fruits that hang very high with the fruit collector. Both those and others can become a breeding ground for infection, and if they are in good condition, then they can be used as food. But just do not deposit them in storage (especially the carrion).
Caring for an old apple tree
In that case, if you got the old garden, and the apples hang on it attractive, then in autumn you can rejuvenate the trees. Of course, first of all, you need to do all the operations that we described above. Further, under the branches of the apple tree, which are strongly deviated from the shoots, you can put props. Supports are unlikely to hinder you, and these branches will bring many fruits next year.
Pay attention to whether there are tops - thick, vertically growing shoots of apple trees, half of them can be safely cut into a ring and covered with slices of garden varieties, and the other half can be bent to a horizontal position and sawed with wooden pegs to the ground or nearby shoots, laying elastic bands between them . In the future, they will yield good results, since they will no longer be useless tops.
If you plan to cut an old apple tree, then in no case do it right away, stretch the pleasure of a year for three or four, otherwise you can ruin the plant. In the first year, limit yourself to removing dry, broken and diseased branches (as well as one or two shoots that did not produce fruit at all) on the ring. Next year, remove those shoots that thicken the crown, and finally, in the third year, try to subordinate the central conductor to the side shoots, creating typical and familiar to all three tiers of the crown.
In addition, just in case, treat the old apple trees with a complex of pesticides, after harvesting, of course, and fertilize (except nitrogen, they can not be), 15-20 g of potassium sulfate and 10-15 g of superphosphate can be poured in a circle dug up soil wood ash (a pair of handfuls). Do not forget about water-charging irrigation.
Warming of apple trees and protection
This is more likely to apply to young apple trees, since the apple tree is generally a relatively winter-hardy plant (though anything happens). Put humus in the near-trunk zone (3-4 cm layer), and be sure to protect the stem from rodents by the net until the first branches. And yet (by the way, this applies to all apple trees): cut off unripe shoots (their green tops). After the first snow falls, you can put out the poisoned bait near each apple tree and send the trees to sleep, wishing them sweet dreams.