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 Post subject: Multiple variety apple tree
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2005 6:51 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2005 6:43 pm
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About 7 years ago I purchased an apple tree with multiple apples grafted along the trunk. I have 6 different apples grafted on it. I am getting apples from 3 of the top apples, but the lower grafted branches are not growing much or not bearing at all. Is there a convenient way of helping the lower branches produce, like drasticly pruning the upper branches or whatever? Any suggestions?


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 Post subject: Multi-varietal apple tree
PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 7:06 am 
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In order to give a good answer, it would help to know 1) how tall the tree is 2) the state in which you are growing the tree 3) the varieties that are producing 4) the varieties that are not producing. That information would reduce speculation.
If the lower branches are in excessive shade caused by the upper branches or if the tree is recieving less than full sunlight due to shade from taller trees or buildings, it would not be surprising to have the problem you describe. But the answers to the above questions would help shed some light on the matter.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 8:29 pm 
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Thanks Topper for your quick response. I had to gather some of the information you requested, amoungst other pressing activities! First of all I live in the central part of Michigan, north of Saginaw about 20 miles. My tree is actually 10 years old (per my records). I lied about 6 apples as it only has 5 varieties! I planted it facing north and south(grafts going that direction). The south facing varieties are Top - Gravenstein, Middle - Jonagold, Bottom - Yellow Delicious. The north facing varieties are Top - Yellow Transparent, and Bottom - Melrose. There seems to be a branch in the middle, but I have no records of any variety. The tree is about 9 feet tall, and about 14 ft wide. As I traced back the branches, I have apples on the Jonagold (middle south) and the Yellow Transparent (north top). They both have good growth as well as the top south Gravenstein. The tree probably only gets about 3-4 hours of direct sun so I may have the problem you described. The top of the tree is pretty open so the top branches get good sun. I can see what you mean with the bottom branches in shade. I do have tall trees in the south that block from continuous sun. Should I attempt to prune the top branches more, or maybe I should resign myself to growing good apples at the top? The 5 variety tree caught my eye at the time back then, but I have other single variety trees doing much better, so I may need to be satisfied with getting 3 varieties off of that tree. Thanks again for your comments. :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 11:50 pm 
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aaA Moderator

Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2005 7:05 am
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With the limited direct daylight you describe, it's not surprising to have some trouble bearing fruit. It's always the first thing I ask.
Multi-graft trees have a tendency to have some of the varieties overtaking others. Generally, vigorous varieties outperform weak-growing varieties.
Golden Delicious is a productive variety in most cases, so it's a concern when it doesn't bear.
Your original suggestion of trimming the upper branches would help get some light into the lower portions of the tree. That is usually a good idea even for single variety trees. I don't think you should get carried away at it in any one year, but consistent moderate pruning aimed at reducing the top will almost always be beneficial. Often times, people trim away at the bottom of the tree because it's easier to trim there. Then the lower branches get smaller and smaller, grow kind of skinny, and suffer from lack of sunlight because the top of the tree receives no trimming. It ends up that you grow the tree "upside down," by which I mean that the top is big and the bottom is small. You really want a tree that is wider at the bottom than it is at the top, which distributes light more evenly. That is, with a narrow top, there's not so much to shade the bottom.
I support the idea of trying to get apples from all of the varieties on the tree. That's the fun of it. It's sure worth a try.
Of course, I haven't seen the tree in person, so I'm making do with the info you've given. Everything points to light being the problem, from what you've said.


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