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 Encouraging blooms 
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 221
Location: Rochester, WA
Post Encouraging blooms
My apple trees have put on 2 feet of growth this year, but they only had less than 10 blooms each. How can I encourage more bloom and less growth. I know less nitrogen is good. Any ideas? Thanks

Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.

Sun Jul 10, 2011 11:53 am

Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 1:00 pm
Posts: 204
Location: SE Portland
Post Re: Encouraging blooms
Let me second that question. My older trees (M.111) bloomed like mad this year, and most of the young espaliers (M.9) bloomed and set between some and too much fruit. The Tydeman's Late Orange (also M.9) put all of its energy into vegetative growth. It was by far the fastest growing of the small trees last year, and I pruned it like mad to keep it where I want it. I do not fertilize at all, just mulch, and no tree got significantly more or less than any other.

Do we want to start stressing these trees, put the fear of death into them, and so encourage them to put their energy into making babies?


Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:07 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:42 pm
Posts: 189
Post Re: Encouraging blooms
this is also something I want to learn more about.... a few thoughts:

1. I can read the standard explanations/thoughts but they still don't satisfy: ... sfail.html

Trees seem to be more fickle and more mysterious than the literature suggests.

2. I have tried "scoring" the trunk....sometimes with success and sometimes not as a way of tricking the tree into producing.

3. I have tried epsom salts and far, nothing to speak of.

4. A commercial grower friend I know uses a synthetic spray to get more fruit set, but I forgot the name right now and it may not be practical for homeowners.

5. I need to learn more about soil analysis, but lately the weather has been exceptionally wet and cool and this undoubtedly is affecting the pollination....(and I wonder if maybe even the bloom?) Hobby enthusiasts here in Washington are thinking they need to research more about varieties that do well with this kind of weird weather we have been having.

I am definitely interested in hearing how people may have treated old trees that they have pruned to get new wood, but the tree is still hardly producing any blooms or fruit....and what they could do to correct that situation as I am finding it with a lot of the trees I work with.

Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:25 pm

Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:21 pm
Posts: 43
Location: McMinnville, OR
Post Re: Encouraging blooms
This topic can get complexed very fast but the five major plant hormones:

auxin, cytokinin, gibberellins, abscisic acid, and how plant hormones work in trees helps in ethylene; 'has a lot to do with it.' Pruning, weather, and fertilizers also manipulate these hormones and associated enzymes. So given all that we don't know or understand as a scientific culture plants and trees, just have their own plan of growth and development.
Pruning has been the best practice approach to getting fruit trees to produce fruit. Knowing which trees fruit on spurs and which ones don't when pruning is essential.

Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:19 am

Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:41 pm
Posts: 2
Post Re: Encouraging blooms
My trees produce well every other year, consistently for the last 12 years.
Tried different pruning, hasn't made any difference.

Not sure if there is anything I can do at this point, other than live with alternating years.

Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:13 pm

Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 1:00 pm
Posts: 204
Location: SE Portland
Post Re: Encouraging blooms
The standard answer is "thin like mad" as soon as you can. That means knocking off blossoms. Having never had to do this, and certainly having never had to correct a dozen years of alternating poverty and profligacy, I don't know if it can be corrected in a single season. Or, more accurately, pair of seasons.

Someone with real experience probably has a better answer.


Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:39 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1406
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Encouraging blooms
A good general rule is to thin heavily on the heavy year within 40 days of bloom.

On the off year, prune the tree.

It will work over time.
JOhn S

Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:34 pm
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