Had a really nice day touring an orchard and talking with Frank. Frank then came to my place and told me what to do. Frank has about 800 apple trees on his property.
1. One thing i noticed immediately at Franks place, the floor was very clean in the orchard. Frank uses gly and sizamine. (sp?) to keep the grasses down.
2. The spraying program is the key. You MUST spray an effective fungicide, insecticide, and must be sprayed at the 14 day intervals. The sign of the mouse ear on the leaves is the first spray. If you are not spraying, you are wasting your time growing apple trees. That would be me.
3. Pruning. On mature trees. A bird must be able to fly in and keep flapping it's wings and fly out. If it is too branchy and tight in the middle it will die, eventually. Sunlight is key. The air must move in the tree. Clean the pruners after every tree with a bleach solution and do your pruning in the winter. ON a young tree, train and keep the branches and leaves green. The photosynthesis of the tree in the first 5 years by keeping it healthy will provide the next 50 years of enjoyment.
4. Branches die. There is nothing wrong with a branch dying. There is nothing you can do.
5. You can't kill a tree by pruning it. You will only help it. Don't go crazy and make it a 3 year project by shaping, but the best thing you can do is spray..spray..spray.
6. Frank uses Captec 3qts, Imidan 2lbs, plus a fungicide Flint, Indar, Rubigan. about 8-12oz all in a 125 gallon sprayer.
7. Frank uses wasp and hornet spray for the tent worms. Even the eggs. But, he does not get many with a good spray program.
Frank came to my place. I have fungus! And it's leaf spot, brown spot.. etc. I need to rake every leaf out of my orchard and burn them in the fall. Spray...spray...spray.. next spring. I have too much grass in my orchard. I need the knock it all down. I have to put wraps on all my trees for rabbits and voles. I need to focus on training my branches by hanging some water bottles on the branches.
We went to some remote trees I have on my property that I have planted around some 7 foot wire cages. Frank said my cages are perfect, but again. kill the grass, clean the floor, wrap the trunks, spray the trees. Frank said he is shocked I didn't lose one tree in the past two years due to the cold. I told him in a smirk, maybe it was my lack of a spray program. We both laughed. Great guy. I made a good friend.