My young apple tree-Golden Russet (B9)- has deformed leaves emerging that are also wilted at the edges. Also split bark on one of the twigs.
Diagnosis and remedy? – Picture attached.
Hi Eric – Your Golden Russet is a classic, late-season apple type which is resistant to scab, canker and powdery mildew – the most common diseases affecting apple trees. As it’s a young tree (less than 3 years?) I expect the problem you are seeing is a result of an environmental issue or issues such as wind damage, late frost, severe winter damage to the root system or airborne chemical damage.
If this is the case, with good, ongoing care your tree should bounce back. Here’s a checklist of best practices for the care of young fruit trees. Use this list to assess whether you need to adapt any of your current tree care practices.
Watering – Young trees have small, under-developed root systems which makes it harder for them to acquire all the water they need. During their first three years, they should be watered once or twice a week when there is no rainfall. About three buckets of water should be applied ensuring the soil dries out between each watering. After the first 3 years, you should only need to water during very hot, dry weather.
Feeding – Apply a couple inches of compost around the root zone in spring or early summer. Avoid heavy use of cedar or pine bark mulches which use up soil nutrients in the process of decomposing. (Although they do add organic matter to the soil over time.)
Weeding – Keep about a square meter of soil around your tree free from weeds or other plants to avoid competition for water and nutrients.
Pruning – Fruit trees should be pruned annually from their first year to create a stable shape, help to avoid pests and diseases and keep your tree to a manageable size to make harvesting easier.
Thinning Fruit – All baby fruit should be removed for the first two years. This step will allow your tree to direct its limited energy to the development of strong roots and leaves. In addition, the branches of your young tree may not yet be strong enough to support the weight of the fruit.
Monitoring – Check your trees weekly to look for in this case, improvement and going forward any changes that could indicate other problems and enable you to address them quickly.
Contact us again if you need more information on any of the topics in the list or if your tree is not responding to your good care.