Can anyone recommend the best way to identify tree varieties in my orchard? The house was built in the 40s so some of them look really old but they're all providing lots of fruit, mainly apples
The RHS holds Fruit Identification days each year - details of 2013 dates and venues are here http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/pdf/Free-fruit-identification-days-2013 - of course you're too late for them now, but there will be details for 2014 on their website nearer the time.
Also Apple Days are held all over in the Autumn. The Orange Pippin site is good for pictures and also the Brogdale site.
You can send apple samples off to Brogdale for identification, but there's a charge for this.
This website might help you with identification-http://www.fruitid.com
I find this quite helpful:http://www.orangepippin.com/
www.fruitid.com from steephill
Yes, I found the above mentioned sites helpful in identifying fruit. easy to follow self id steps.I now think my unlabled tree saved from garden centre reduced plants section ,is a Prince Edward which bears fruit very nicely in my garden.Thank you steephill.
If submitting samples remember that the foliage is also a useful tool in helping to identify apple varieties.
Thanks everyone - that's really helpful. I need to trim the ones that are there - take out the cross over ones and dead ones. Can I shock the tree if I cutback the other branches by a 1/3?
Apples are quite tough, I wouldn't reduce the tree crown by more than about 1/4 to 1/5. Most trees will be fine but if it's a valued tree I wouldn't take the chance. It's best to do it over several years if you want a large reduction. Just as a general rule that is. Something like a Bramley would be fine if you hacked it to the ground I'm sure.