Leaning apple tree


Yearling... With promise
Hey everyone. New member to the site but I've been lurking for a while. Love all of the advice here and seeing what everyone is planting.

It's been fairly wet here in northwest PA this spring. We had a lot of rain and heavy wind on Friday and I ended up with this old apple tree leaning pretty hard. The roots are not ripped out of the ground yet, but it's well on its way if I don't do something. Any suggestions on what to do to keep it from falling over the rest of the way? Thought about trying to brace it up with a board, but it's pretty big ang I'm not sure if it would work. Hate to lose this tree. I'm sure it's just some sort of wild apple, but it puts out a ton of 1 1/2" green apples that the deer visit every night when it's dropping


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Here is what I would do:
1. Stand it back up with a tractor and front end loader.
2. Rope it off to a couple of sturdy trees in the background. A brace would be good too - maybe a couple of 14 foot 4x4s forming a V shape against the tree.
3. Dump a lot of rock on top of the ground all around the roots of the tree. As the roots reestablish their holding power, the rock will help weight the ground down over them.
Going to lose some production for a number of years but if that was my tree would top prune all those branches arched over. Tree will send up a number of new sprouts more vertical and can remove competing ones later but in the mean time without all that offset weight the roots should stabilize and grow back to support even at an angle.

Those arched over branches are never going to spring back up and future storms will just finish the uprooting.

Not storm damage but a logger ignoring my flagging on some wild apples and he dropped a big tree on an apple. Had to do as described above and trunk still has a bit of lean but all the new wood is more vertical and tree seems pretty solid. Similar to yours, probably a 50 yr old tree.
Gently stand it back upright with a come-along, ATV winch, or tractor and then tie it off to another tree. I would then prune it back quite a bit to reduce all that mass above the ground.
Straighten however you can but also prune it. Trees on the edge like that always get heavy on the field side and grow too tall and spindly. After you straighten and prune, I’d whack a bunch of trees around it and get that thing some sun. You can really ramp up the production on that tree by releasing it from all those other trees and bring the sun in. Ideal would be half as high and twice as wide. While you’re at it clear a bigger area and plant a few more. You can never have enough apples!
I’ve had this happen a couple times with poorly anchored dwarfing rootstocks. I right the tree somehow usually with a tractor but a come-along would also work then I drive in a t-post in rather deeply and if I managed to get the t-post on the leaning side I let the tree rest on the post if I couldn’t get it on the leaning side I use rope of some sort to tie the tree to the t-post to hold it up. This is one reason I stopped using dwarfing rootstocks.
I had 9 year old Wolf River on B118 that laid over last fall after a couple years of failed attempts to correct it. I pruned it off at about 8ft tall and stood it back up. I’ll re-stake it and let it start over. I’ll keep it small for a few years to see if it can get better anchored.
Thanks for the responses everyone. Did a little bit of work on it tonight when I got home. Hooked it onto a cherry tree behind it with a come along, but I'm not sure if that is gonna do enough to stand it back up. Figure at least it should keep it from going any further for the moment. Pruned some of the lower branches I could reach with the pole saw, and got up with the ladder and cut off one of the larger arching branches leaving it with 2 good sized shoots that were pointed more vertically.

A few more questions. As was observed, this tree is on the edge of the woods and is heavily weighted to one side. How hard should I prune this to get the weight off without damaging the tree? I do not have a tractor to be able to push it back up. Even if I can't get it straightened out with a come along or my winch I think I'll leave it tied into the cherry tree behind it. What do you guys recommend for this? Rope, cable, chain?

Also, no worries about clearing out space to plant more trees. Already put about 40 apple, crabapple, pear trees in the past 2 years. Nothing new this year, but all of the ones I've planted so far are waking up. Pretty happy after babying them through the past 2 dry summers.


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Webbed tow strap around the tree, you could even pad that; a winch from a four wheeler would even work if you tied off the wheeler to a tree - rope with some mechanical advantage rigged in depends on how wet the soil is and how easily it pulls back over.

I always shoot for 30% max when pruning unless it calls for more, you are trying to save the tree so taking a bit more might be ok - you dont have to do it all in one shot,

I would get to pulling that tree before the ground dries out. I like the idea of sinking some t-posts but you will have to live with them then. Back anchor the tree and definitely brush open behind the tree and keep it that way to encourage some growth to balance the tree out on the back side. Good luck -