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 HELP: out of control granny smith tree 
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Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:48 pm
Posts: 1
Post HELP: out of control granny smith tree
Hey everyone.. my name is Stephanie Stricklen and I found this organization through twitter. I moved into a new home in Clark county that has a solitary Granny Smith apple tree. The tree has a disease that I'm very confident is textbook 'apple scab'. I know nothing about fruit trees so please forgive my ignorant phrasing-- but it has a fairly old/developed looking trunk. Coming off of the older-looking part of the tree are tons of tangly, tall shoots. Some of the apples look/taste great (once you peel off the scabs) but many others are weak and under-developed. I found great on-line pruning resources through various agriculture school websites, but my question here is: can I "restart" the whole process by taking off ALL the shoots and letting the tree rebuild itself from it's older trunk and base-- with me pruning new shoots that grow after that severe pruning. I don't need to harvest apples from it if it would take a few years to recover. But looking at the mess that's going on-- it's too overwhelming. Thoughts? Thanks so much for your advice!


Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:34 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: HELP: out of control granny smith tree
Welcome Stephanie,

Apple trees are relatively easy to regenerate and your Granny Smith is likely a young(er) tree. Large older trees on standard, or non-dwarfing rootstock are a challenge, but yours sounds doable.

I'll let others give you their recommendations on limiting apple scab, which is extremely bad this year after consecutive cold wet springs. I’ve got a ‘Stark Spur’ Granny Smith where the buds are closer together and the foliage is even ‘tighter.’ I haven’t one apple on the entire tree! Pollination was poor, too. Let’s just hope for a normal, if not dryer spring next year…

Doing your homework is not ignorant and we’re happy to field such questions …too many folks will ‘prune’ with a chainsaw when in doubt… It does sound like the tree needs to be opened up. I can give you some basic suggestions that will remove about 75% of the excess material, or you can look for a more detailed guide.

Try this: remove (with a hand pruning saw) anything going straight up off the top of a lateral or ‘side branch’ from the main trunk. Remove anything growing straight down from the bottom of any branch. Remove anything growing toward the middle of the tree. What’s left will look a lot more like it should and be much easier to ‘fine prune.’

Our Society puts on pruning seminars, and though I do one myself for the Master Gardeners of Yamhill County, I’ve not attended any HOS pruning events. You may want to. Also, now is not too early to begin pruning, especially on an apple tree. Just be careful on a ladder (or get yourself a three-legged orchard ladder) and I wouldn’t suggest using a chainsaw. A nice ‘flip open’ hand pruning saw will do most of the big cuts you need; hand pruners and or loppers can make the rest.

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Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:14 am
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