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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Did you fertilize your apples trees this year? I know Michigan State University recommends fertilizing in the spring before bud break. I knew that we were getting close to bud break here in the U.P. but I didn't want to fertilize until I saw some rain in the forecast. Finally yesterday, Storm Weather said we had 100% chance of 0.9 inches of rain so I went out and fertilized well over 100 apple and crabapple trees. It was the first day I saw any signs of any buds opening up a little so it was a good day to get it done.

I finished up just as the rain started but I was disappointed that we did not get as much as predicted - what's new? I was happy though that the T-Storms that had the Quarter Sized - 1 inch hail went around us to the north.

I set out the rain gauge yesterday as I hope that we are beyond any further freezing weather. Checked it this morning and we had just about 1/4 inch:

Sky Plant Cloud Grass Tree


Depending upon who you believe you should apply between 1/2 Cup - 1 Cup of fertilizer (I use 19-19-19) per each inch of stem diameter. I usually supplement that with some Urea (46-0-0) as well to make sure the trees get an adequate amount of Nitrogen - 1/2 Cup for trees less than 5 years old and 1 Cup for trees older than 5.

I wasn't quite sure if I applied too much fertilizer last year, or maybe I pruned them too vigorously, but I got a lot more growth than I wanted to (I think 12"-16" is optimum). I had 24-30 inches of growth on many of my trees. This is good if you are collecting scion wood for grafting but a little too good otherwise, so I only spread 1/2 Cup/inch diameter of T-19 and I omitted the Urea altogether this year.

This is what my orchard looked like after I fertilized the apple trees last year....and before Elaine told me to get out there and fertilize the rest of the lawn so it was green too. :D
Plant Tree Natural landscape Land lot Grass


Some of these upright suckers were looooonnngggg.

Sky Plant Plant community Tree Wood


From my notes:

Handwriting Rectangle Font Parallel Writing


I usually give my oak seedlings a little shot (1/4 Cup or so) of fertilizer too but I ran out of time so I will get them later.

Can you tell that I missed #3 last year?

Plant Tree Natural landscape Wood Land lot


In another week or two I will get out and do some grafting from scion wood I collected last month (or was it March). Other than that I am pretty much done with apple tree maintenance this year except for some spraying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Here’s one I found in 2013 .. the picture is deceiving because this tree is all of 16’ tall, I give it a couple lbs of 12-12-12 every spring View attachment 831368
That was a good find Mustang!

I like to use 19-19-19 because I get 57# of actual fertilizer per 100# (2 bags) rather than only 36# actual with Triple 12 - which is 21# (58%) more fertilizer for not much more cost per bag
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
To be clear, you're sprinkling said amount of dry fertilizer around the base of the tree. No Miracle grow. You try to do just before rain, or water at same time?
Asking for a friend.
Yes - Spread the granular fertilizer around the drip line of the tree (not at the base). Imagine the roots being spread out underground as the same as the spread of the branches above ground. The drip line (outer edge of the branches) is where the roots will absorb the most nutrients.

You can clearly see in this photo where I spread the granular fertilizer. I just walk around the outside edge of the drip line and spread the fertilizer. The outside edge of the roots are in exactly the same location underground. If you applied the fertilizer at the base of these trees they really wouldn't assimilate much of it.

Plant Tree Natural landscape Land lot Grass


Miracle Grow - being a liquid and applied to small seedlings, I just pour it down the tubes - or you could apply it to the foliage of a tree that is not in a tube.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
PS - I always try to apply fertilizer prior to a rain event. I probably have close to 150 apple/crabapple trees out there and I couldn't possibly water all of them. I do make it a priority to water newly planted and very young trees the first year or two anyway.

I do not fertilize freshly planted trees but it wouldn't hurt them if you want to add a little Miracle Grow to the first pail of water I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I plan to sprinkle some 6-24-24 this weekend. Cant always get up to the property before bud break. Hopefully this wont hurt too bad. Soils are low in P and K anyways.
That should work Dantana. Yes - apple trees need P & K too and they can be applied this time of year. The Nitrogen is best applied when the trees are dormant.

A few years ago I decided to do a soil test in my "People Orchard". While I had fertilized my apple trees regularly with what I thought they needed, I had never actually tested the soil in the orchard. The lab sent me back a lot of great info that I was never aware of:

Rectangle Font Parallel Software Screenshot


Font Parallel Number Paper product Screenshot


Font Parallel Paper Document Paper product


I went ahead and applied a lot of K - 0-0-60, and have been applying at least 1 application of Triple 19 to the entire orchard each year now.

I also bought some Calcium Nitrate (hard to dissolve crystals) and Boron and have applied that occasionally.

Liquid Ingredient Natural foods Fluid Plastic bottle
 
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Good stuff as always WT. I did not fertilize this year, I honestly have a hard time keeping my trees from growing too much length. I had to really cut an Ozark gold back this year because even the weight of the leaves were bending and distorting the branches last year, let alone any fruit. Too much length and not enough girth.

The next couple years I plan to really let the scaffolding branches develop some strength before I let them get too long.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
As long as we are talking apple tree maintenance, I will go ahead and post this Spray Schedule that @Whitetail Freak shared with us a few years ago. It is an excellent reference if you want to have some nice apples for eating, making pies, dehydrating, etc. The deer probably don't mind if the apples aren't sprayed, but at least a few of these sprayings are really good for your trees.

Font Plant Publication Paper Paper product
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Good stuff as always WT. I did not fertilize this year, I honestly have a hard time keeping my trees from growing too much length. I had to really cut an Ozark gold back this year because even the weight of the leaves were bending and distorting the branches last year, let alone any fruit. Too much length and not enough girth.

The next couple years I plan to really let the scaffolding branches develop some strength before I let them get too long.
Sounds like you have them planted in some real good dirt TTI. Nothing wrong with that.

Great idea to develop strong crotch angles and keep the scaffold length in check. I learned the hard way what happens when you don't.
 

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As long as we are talking apple tree maintenance, I will go ahead and post this Spray Schedule that Whitetail Freak shared with us a few years ago. It is an excellent reference if you want to have some nice apples for eating, making pies, dehydrating, etc. The deer probably don't mind if the apples aren't sprayed, but at least a few of these sprayings are really good for your trees.

View attachment 831385
Very practical spray schedule. I screen shot that picture from this site a few years ago and reference it often.
 

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Sounds like you have them planted in some real good dirt TTI. Nothing wrong with that.

Great idea to develop strong crotch angles and keep the scaffold length in check. I learned the hard way what happens when you don't.
I did for sure. I live fairly close to the "farm capital of Michigan" and definitely enjoy the the local soil qualities.

If I wouldn't have thinned all the fruit off a couple trees last year I'm certain the majority of the branches would have snapped off, or at the very least bowed way down. Not a bad problem to have as far as fruit production, but definitely requires more babysitting to make sure the tree doesn't out-produce it's physical capabilities.
 

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Whats the best way to deal with caterpillars on your fruit trees?
BT ( Bacillus Thuringiensis) Spray when the Leaves are out ( Mid May( so when the Caterpillars eat the leaves they ingest the BT and it will kill them off. you can Contact MSU for more detail Info.
Like Gypsy Moth's BT is safe for edible Fruit. If It rainds you need to reapply and BT has a shorter Shelf Life as over time it does not as well!

I apply Organic Free Tree Fertilizer Kellogg Garden Organics "Organic Plus" comes in 11.5 lbs Found it at Home Depot (ordered it Online and delivered to my Door)
Newaygo1
...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Whats the best way to deal with caterpillars on your fruit trees?
Anything with Carbaryl in it will work. A friend of mine swears that the Seven 4F with Carbaryl does a nice job of thinning his apples as well as treating for insects. I tried some regular Sevin that did not contain Carbaryl and it didn't thin the apples but it still does a nice job and is safe to use on fruit trees.

I have also used Bonide, Imidan and others...

Captan is a good Fungicide which is highly recommended and included in the spray schedule...but it doesn't kill insects

Liquid Fluid Tin Ingredient Bottle


I usually don't get many tent caterpillars in my fruit trees but they do make nests in other trees around here - especially black cherry trees. When they start showing up I carry a 1 gal pump sprayer with this Ferti-Lome mix in it and spray as I happen to see them in my travels around the property...

Bottle Liquid Bottle cap Plant Fluid


Handwriting Fluid Bumper Wood Material property


Whatever insecticide you choose, do not spray when the trees are in bloom. If you sprayed with all these blossoms on the trees you would kill a lot of good pollinators....and we need all of them we can get.

Flower Plant Branch Tree Sky


Bees are our friends...
 

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not to rain on your parade , but you do not need to fertilize apple trees in most of michigan , 19 19 19 is high nitrogen which causes bitter pit in apples, especially honey crisp, red delicious and northern spy and 46 percent urea not needed , all nitrogen , you are your own worst enemy unless you want your grass to green up early and like to mow.You tube bitter pit in honey crisp apples to get a grip on what your doing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
BT ( Bacillus Thuringiensis) Spray when the Leaves are out ( Mid May( so when the Caterpillars eat the leaves they ingest the BT and it will kill them off. you can Contact MSU for more detail Info.
Like Gypsy Moth's BT is safe for edible Fruit. If It rainds you need to reapply and BT has a shorter Shelf Life as over time it does not as well!

I apply Organic Free Tree Fertilizer Kellogg Garden Organics "Organic Plus" comes in 11.5 lbs Found it at Home Depot (ordered it Online and delivered to my Door)
Newaygo1
...
I have never used BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) on my apple trees but it does appear to be safe to use.

I do use it to control Spruce Budworm when they show up to devastate my Norway and Blue Spruce trees. It is very effective if you can get after them as soon as they show up.

Plant Bottle Liquid Food Ingredient


Cylinder Font Liquid Ink Still life photography


I don't use this for tent worms as you need to use it up right away after it is mixed. For carrying the tank sprayer around I used Ferti-Lome Carbaryl.

Spruce budworm at work...

Plant Terrestrial plant Tree Flower Twig


Tree Larch Terrestrial plant Evergreen shortstraw pine
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
not to rain on your parade , but you do not need to fertilize apple trees in most of michigan , 19 19 19 is high nitrogen which causes bitter pit in apples, especially honey crisp, red delicious and northern spy and 46 percent urea not needed , all nitrogen , you are your own worst enemy unless you want your grass to green up early and like to mow.You tube bitter pit in honey crisp apples to get a grip on what your doing.
I believe you are a commercial grower, are you not ice house? You don't post much but I believe you chimed in on a spraying apple trees thread last year? I believe you even complimented me on my apples and trees from photos I posted on that thread - thank you again.

Of course we value your opinion so feel free to chime in here. We are just amateurs trying to grow soft mass mostly for our wildlife and maybe a few "People Apples" while we are doing it. Being a commercial producer would qualify you as more of an expert in this area, so please explain in more detail if you will.

You may have noted that I prefaced my fertilization remarks with "Depending upon who you believe"... because there is a plethora of information on this subject on the net. I have researched it quite a bit over the years and have tried to settle on what may be the most reasonable from what I have found.

Here is what I said in the first post on the thread:

"Depending upon who you believe you should apply between 1/2 Cup - 1 Cup of fertilizer (I use 19-19-19) per each inch of stem diameter. I usually supplement that with some Urea (46-0-0) as well to make sure the trees get an adequate amount of Nitrogen - 1/2 Cup for trees less than 5 years old and 1 Cup for trees older than 5."

Just to be sure, I went out and weighed 1 cup for Triple 19 - It weighed 1/2#. Urea being lighter would weigh a little less.

So - If 1# of T-19 contains 0.19# of Actual N....1 Cup - 1/2# would contain 0.095# actual N and 1/4# would be 0.0475# actual N.

I don't have any Urea on hand but I have used it many times and I know it is bulkier (lighter) than T-19 but for sake of brevity let's just say it weighs the same - 1/2# per Cup.

1# of Urea contains 0.46# actual N - 1/2# (1 Cup) contains 0.23# actual N and 1/4# (1/2 Cup) contains 0.115# actual N

From the net:

Determining How Much Fertilizer to Use
Fruit trees need 0.10 pounds of “actual nitrogen” per year of age, or per inch of trunk diameter (measured 1 foot above the ground). The maximum you should give a fruit tree in a year is 1 pound of actual nitrogen.Jul 13, 2021


What I said seems go be somewhat conservative, or at least comparable to what I posted above...

If I apply 1 Cup Urea for 5 year old (or 5" diameter) trees they are only getting 0.23# of Actual Nitrogen per year - no where near the 1.0# maximum recommended amount.

For smaller trees getting only 1/2 Cup (1/4#) of Urea - they would be getting only 0.115# Actual N much less than the recommendation, except just slightly over for a 1" diameter tree.

If you add in the small amounts of Actual N from the Triple 19, it still only adds up to:

0.095# Actual N for 1 cup and 0.0475# Actual N for a 1/2 cup - still well within the posted guidelines.

So if Nitrogen is so bad for my apple trees, why are all these expert sources I find on my internet searches recommending I apply Nitrogen annually?

Even our own Michigan State University tells me that Nitrogen should be applied annually:

Apple Nutritionhttps://www.canr.msu.edu › uploads › files › Appl...

Apple Nutrition
Eric Hanson, Department of Horticulture Diagnosing and Avoiding Nutrient Deficiencies
Visual Assessment
Nutrient deficiencies or excesses usually cause symptoms that are fairly indicative of problems with specific nutrients. Some nutrient disorders can be diagnosed by inspecting plants if you are familiar with symptoms. Unfortunately, incorrect diagnoses are common because the "classic" symptoms for deficiencies or excesses of some elements are similar and symptoms may vary in the field. Diagnoses are further complicated when crops are deficient in more than one element at the same time. A limitation of managing apple nutrition based on symptoms and plant tree appearance is that symptoms indicate a problem already exists -- reductions in growth, yield or fruit quality may have already occurred. The goal in fertilizing is to avoid nutritional problems. Symptoms of the nutrient disorders commonly seen in Michigan fruit plantings are described below. Generally, N and K shortages are common; P, Mg, B, Mn and Zn shortages occur occasionally; and Ca, S, Cl, Cu, Fe and Mo shortages are very rare.
Nitrogen (N). Deficient trees produce short terminal shoots. As a rough guide, apples should produce 8 to 12 inch shoots. Deficient apple leaves are pale green to yellow. Color develops uniformly on the leaf with no patterning or mottling, and leaf size is small. Nitrogen is mobile in trees. Symptoms first appear on older leaves because N moves out of older tissue into actively growing younger leaves. Leaves tend to drop early in the fall. Twigs are thin. Fruit set may be light with considerable June drop. Fruits are smaller and often color and mature early. Excess nitrogen can severely reduce apple quality and tree hardiness, and increase susceptibility to fireblight. Large, dark green leaves that remain on the plant late into the fall may indicate too much N. Apples color poorly and lose firmness more readily in storage. Shoot growth exceeds optimum lengths listed above.

MSU even recommends Urea Fertilizer (from the same link)

Fertilizing
Nitrogen (N) is applied annually to most Michigan apples. Fertilizers supply N as nitrate, ammonium or combinations of both. Nitrate is not bound tightly to soil particles and may be subject to leaching losses, whereas ammonium is retained on soil particles and is less prone to leaching. Although apples absorb nitrate more readily than ammonium, ammonium is readily converted to nitrate in warm soil. Research comparing ammonium to nitrate sources of N has generally shown them to be equally effective. Sources that are the least expensive per unit of N are usually preferred.
Urea is a high analysis, inexpensive source that supplies N as ammonium. It is acidic with a limestone equivalent of 1.8, meaning that 1.8 lb limestone will be required to neutralize the acidity from each pound of N applied as urea. Urea is best applied during cool spring weather because some N may be lost by volatilization if the material remains on the soil surface during warm weather. Urea may contain a byproduct (biurette) which can damage young trees, particularly on sandy soils.


I have seen this in more than one publication (including this one) that if you see excessive growth (more than 8-12 inches per year) you need to cut back on the N. If you see less than this amount, you should increase N.

I observed excess growth on my trees this spring from last year's growth so I cut back on N by not applying any Urea. This is what the experts recommend. Yes, I still applied a small amount of N in the 19-19-19 blend but from what I can see, this is nowhere near what anyone has established as a maximum.
 
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