Is my apple tree dying?

I have a few very old apple trees and one is not happy! It has been propped up for a number of years after blowing over in the wind but has been happy like this and has borne fruit for the last 3 years or so. This year there was very very little blossom on it and now not a single fruit. The leaves are turning brown and yellow and falling off completely. Is it dying? Has it got a specific disease which I can treat? Should I prune it right back even though it is not the season for pruning? Help! What can I do to save it?Shoul


  • What are your feeding, pruning and watering schedules?
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 14,741
    Your tree isn’t old. This tree is old.

    Your tree is choked with grass and other guff, which needs to be cleaned away from its root system.

    In the past, it looks as if your tree has begun to lean and has been propped up, probably by giving it a hefty push or two, which will also have done nothing to help its roots.

    It also seems to have been badly pruned. Possibly rot has got into major branches (I can’t see if this is so, but I guess.)

    A lot of things need to be done.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • Carefully remove the fern and mechanically take out the grass to the drip line. You could lay down a water permeable, light blocking geotextile to kill off or weaken the grass.
    Add some mulch in September.
    Your pruning budget is up to 30% of the tree per year, but I'd go with less for a tree not in good obvious health, maybe 20%. Try to stay well within this to not encourage manic new growth or promote disease and death.

    Whichever you would reach first by mass, number of branches, number of buds, length of material, take that as the 20%

    In winter when the tree is dormant (still part of your pruning budget) prune out, dead, dying, diseased branches back to where the come from. Don't cut into the collar as the undifferentiated cells there will form a healing callous.
    Don't leave a stub either or it will rot back and attract disease and arthropods.
    (dead doesn't count toward your pruning budget the material is dead. Dying and diseased does count, it isn't dead,... yet).

    Prune out crossing branches.

    Take it from there.
    Think of it as a long term endeavour and plan your pruning over a number of years. Do as little as you can each year to stay in the pruning budget and allow the tree to recover

    You'd be better getting a gardening friend to come in and show you what to do.
    There are videos on this site, articles in the GW magazine from time to time (pruning season) and numerous videos on Youtube.
    Pruning is important enough a task around the garden that can cause serious damage that it's useful to take a book just about pruning out of the library.
  • Thanks so much for the advice. What a lot of work! But I will try my best to help it come back healthier next year. Appreciate your help.
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