Fall is the most exciting time of year to have an apple tree, since this is when the fruit sets. In between picking apples, however, it's important that you take a little time to properly care for your apple tree. Doing so will help ensure that next year's crop is just as plentiful and delicious. Here are three things you should do each fall to properly care for your apple tree.
Make note of any non-productive branches.
If your apple tree is mature, some of the larger branches may start to decline in productivity. Make note of any mature branches that seem to have few or no apples, so that in the early spring, you can remove these branches with pruning. You can mark the non-productive branches with a little paint so you make sure you get the right ones. Removing these older, non-productive branches will allow the tree to focus more of its resources on producing more new, productive ones.
Clean up dropped apples.
Some people like to "leave them for the deer" or they think that leaving the apples beneath the tree helps revitalize the soil. Unfortunately, leaving the fallen apples beneath the tree offers more risk than reward. Several fungal infections that affect apples, such as brown rot and apple rust, can over-winter in the fallen apples and then cause a more severe infection in the spring. Make sure all of your apples are raked up by the time winter hits, and you should be safe.
Place wire mesh around the bases of trees.
Once the winter comes and food is scarce, deer start turning to tree bark as a source of nourishment. You don't want them to nibble on your apple trees. Take about a 6-foot segment of wire mesh fencing, and wind it around the tree trunk several times. Then, pass a strand of wire around the tree, and twist the ends together to secure it. Make sure your mesh covers at least the first three feet or so of the trunk and that it goes all of the way to the ground. Alternatively, you can purchase a pre-made mesh sleeve for your tree trunk. When spring comes, feel free to remove the mesh so the tree's trunk can breathe more freely.
By cleaning up the dropped apples, marking non-productive branches, and placing mesh around your tree trunks, you're doing a good job of preparing your apple tree for the next growing season. You can also contact a local tree service, like Tree Smart Inc, to help you maintain the tree. Celebrate finishing these tasks with a freshly baked apple pie!