Releasing apple trees


5 year old buck +
I have a small dilemma. I am currently helping a friend with some habitat work and he has a few old apple trees on his hunting land that are in dire need of releasing. The caveat is that it is not his land and his uncle doesn't want any cutting of trees done anywhere on the place. What would be the best way to release the trees, if his uncle would allow minimal amounts of cutting. I'm thinking one would need to see which of the larger trees are causing the most shade and crowding, and work on those, possibly the east and for sure the southerly exposures? Any thoughts?
Thanks stu, that was kind of my line of thinking also. Good info on the disease and drying the dew from the leaves. I did not know that, but then again, I am an idiot when it comes to fruit trees.
Does the uncle know he has some apple trees on the farm and would he bend the rules if you pointed the situation out and explained it?
what sandbur said, im guessing he didnt realize there were apple trees there, and being that they are already established, getting them released would cause some instant benefits to the property. even if he says no, at least you made him aware of what hes got on the land.
That is what he is hoping I can accomplish when we talk to him. My buddy is afraid that his uncle will just tell him "no" without someone else there to back him up and explain the benefits of taking out even a few trees. We have Id'ed 3 trees so far(last fall) and who knows how many more we will find when they start to bloom. 2 full size ancient trees probably 25'-30' tall surrounded by sparse elm and some bigger white pines. One smaller tree, possibly some type of crab, apples are about 2" or a bit larger?
I am thinking it won't be as hard to convince him as his nephew is making it out to be, but he is kind of a strange old fellow, so who knows? He seems like a reasonable guy and if the apples are tasty, he may appreciate the fact that he can harvest a few buckets of apples to eat and for his wife to make a few pies with.
That is what our plan was and I am thinking if we can get the old timer to tag along with us, he may even remember some of the locations of trees from years back. He grew up on the place and most likely has forgotten more about that land than anyone will ever know.
Well, we had planned a trip out to see the landowner tomorrow, but it looks like rain all day and the apples aren't close to blooming yet anyway, so we may just wait another week or 2 to go out when we can actually ID the apple trees by the blossoms. It's a 40 mile trip one way for me, so I don't want to waste a trip and get nothing done. I think I've got all the ammo I need to talk the owner into letting us cut a few trees to release the apples we know of now, and I have told my buddy that he needs to offer to harvest a few bushels of apples for his aunt and uncle each fall, provided we can get the trees to produce a decent crop of apples and they taste decent. Crossing my fingers that this goes well when we finally get out to see him.
Update, visited with my buddy and his uncle at their property last weekend. We showed his uncle the 3 trees he found last fall and he is ok with us cutting anything within a 50' radius of any of those except the 2 large white pines near the older trees and any oaks we find in the area. I assured him I would never fell a healthy oak tree, as I explained we had mostly jack pine in our woods and I love oaks over all other trees. He said if we find other trees this spring while they are blooming(even the "pet" trees in town don't have blossoms yet), we are more than welcome to discuss releasing them with him. He did say he wanted his nephew to grab him a few 5 gallon buckets full if they produce a good crop this fall. Wasn't such a hard sell after all!
Nice, I am sure he will like the outcome. Do a good job on those and he will pointing out future ones to release. When I started doing projects 3 years ago I had the eagle eye of my in laws. The first couple projects came out good, now I just run my plans by them and they don't bat an eye. I earned their trust that I am not going to muck up their land.
You might be shocked at how quickly the trees respond. I found a giant apple tree that was probably 25+ feet tall and was somehow able to survive against some elms. A year and a half ago I cut down the competing elms and last fall the tree was absolutely loaded with fruit. The fruit was some type of small crabapple. I've never seen a single tree produce so many apples, it was almost unbelievable. I found a few other trees that will be released soon and hopefully I'll get similar results. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at number of apples you'll have this fall.
We just released an old apple tree at our camp from some old pines. No pruning has been done to the tree as it is starting to bud. Should we fertilize around it or will that just push watersprouts? Tree is approx. 40 yrs. old, variety unknown.
If they wern't getting much light at all do not fertilize.
Maya - It was surrounded by white pines and we opened up the south side of the tree by taking some pines down. No other trees were growing closer than 15 to 20 ft. ( trunks coming out of the ground ). Some pine limbs were almost contacting the apple limbs. No weeds to speak of - briars had been sprayed last year to kill them. Lime around there?
What is the ph like there? Normally low where there are pines, so I would suspect some lime wouldn't hurt. Test soil though if you have the time. When I open around trees that were not getting much light I don't do much else for the first year besides getting rid of dead wood. This orchard had a lot of pines around it. This was probably 3-4 years after we started, never fertilized it. DSCN0300.JPG
Here is an old apple tree mostly dead I cut it back to this live branch last year. It is still alive this spring interesting to see if it makes it.orchard May 14,2014 2014-05-14 021.JPG
Nice NH!
Thanks guys, for the responses and great info ( and the pix! ).
Sorry NH, just saw this. I haven't been back out there since we did the cutting. I will ask my friend if he has got any pics or if he gets to that part of the farm while bowhunting to take a couple. I do know back in late July and he sent me a pic that looked like we will need to take care of some briars that were coming in. I couldn't id them from the fuzzy phone pic he sent me, but he said we could let them grow to see what they were and if the deer would browse whatever they are? They haven't gotten near the apples at all yet, so he thinks they may make a nice funnel if they are something worth keeping. We shall see I guess? I do know they had quite a few blossoms this past spring and he sent me a pic of some baby apples starting. I will inquire, as now I am curious and I most likely won't get over there until the last weekend of rifle season.
NH, that is what he is hoping they are also and why I suggested he leave them for now. I know there are a couple other areas that have blackberries on that farm, so in all likelihood they will turn out to be something beneficial.