Soil and Situation. Apples succeed on a wide variety of soils and in most parts of the country. Fertilization is usually uncertain at altitudes above 700 ft. In such places latetflowering varieties such as Crawley Beauty, Edward VII, Court Pendu Plat, Royal Jubilee, and Orleans Reinette usually give best results. Devonshire Quarrendon, Keswick Codlin, and Margil also succeed. Nitrogen and potash are the two most essential foods; phosphates do not show much result and need be supplied only occasionally. Soil must be dug thoroughly. Manure or compost may be incorporated prior to planting at 1 cwt. to 15 sq. yd. Lime is not essential.
Planting. This may be done at any time from late October till mid-March ; early November is the best time if soil is in good condition. Roots should be spread out in wide holes sufficiently deep to allow the uppermost roots to be covered with 3-4 in. of soil. Make thoroughly firm and stake securely. The union between stock and scion must not be buried. Distance for planting will depend on type of tree. Plant horizontal-trained trees 12-15 ft. apart, in rows at least 6 ft. apart ; dwarf pyramids 4 ft. apart, in rows at least 8 ft. apart.
Forms of Training. Apples are commonly grown as cordons, either single stemmed or double stemmed, dwarf pyramids, horizontal trained, bush, half-standards, and standards. Cordon trees and dwarf pyramids are suitable for confined places or where fruits of very high quality are required. Horizontal-trained trees are suitable for walls and espaliers and give fruit of excellent quality. Bushes may be used in large fruit gardens and orchards; usually ground is cultivated beneath them. Half-standards and standards are for orchard planting or use as specimens. They are frequently grassed under.
Pollination. A few varieties of apples are self-sterile, i.e. they will not produce fruit with their own pollen, while all set better crops when cross-pollinated. In consequence, it is unwise to plant apples singly. They should be in company with other varieties of apple blooming at approximately the same time.
Pruning. Trained trees and small bushes should be pruned in summer and winter. Large bushes, half-standards and standards are usually pruned in winter only, as summer pruning involves too much labour. Summer pruning is done during July and August, when side growths are nearly as thick as lead pencils and starting to get woody at the base. Each is shortened to five well-developed leaves. Leading growths (those extending branches) are not pruned in summer. In November laterals are further cut back to two buds, and leaders are shortened by a quarter or one-third their length. The object of this double pruning is to overcome individual peculiarities of growth and make all trees conform to one type with fruit-bearing spurs closely clustered along the main branches. See also Lorette pruning.
Where WINTER PRUNING only is carried out, individual peculiarities must be considered. Some varieties tend to produce fruit buds all along the stems or mainly at the tips. Examples are Allington Pippin, Irish Peace, Cornish Gilliflower, Gladstone, Lady Sudeley, St Everard, and Worcester Pearmain. These must be pruned lightly. Tip leaders, remove badly placed or crossing branches and those growing inwards but, where possible, retain laterals at full length. Other varieties produce fruit on long spurs. Examples are Bismarck, Blenheim Orange, Bramley’s Seedling, Encore, and Newton Wonder. Treat as above, but shorten laterals by one-third. Most other varieties form short spurs readily. These may have leaders shortened by one-third and laterals cut to fruit buds wherever these have formed. Other laterals, unprovided with fruit buds, may be left unpruned for a further year, if there is room for them, or be cut back to three or four growth buds if they are overcrowded. All this work may be done at any time between late October and early February.
Pruning Young Trees. For the first few years of growth is more imprtant that fruiting, and pruning must be designed to encourage this. Prune laterals in winter to one or two buds and shorten leaders to the point at which it is desirable they should fork. With bush and standard trees this means that they should be shortened to points at which they are 12-18 in. apart, considered laterally, or 2-3 ft. apart, considered vertically, these being the correct average spacings for the main branches. Be particularly careful to remove inwardtpointing shoots in bushes and standards and always to cut leaders to strong outward-pointing buds.
Forming Espaliers. Leading growths of side arms are shortened by only a few inches. The central vertical growth is cut back to within about 15 in. of the uppermost pair of arms. In the spring one shoot from this pruned central stem is trained vertically and two more are tied down to left and right to form a new pair of arms. When sufficient arms have been obtained, the vertical shoot is cut right out and prevented from re-forming. The same treatment is given to the leading shoots of arms when these have extended far enough.
Forming Cordons. The leading growth is not pruned at all until the tree has grown to the maximum desired height. It is then cut out and prevented from re-forming. Laterals are summer and winter pruned from the outset. Cordons are frequently planted at an angle of 45 degrees mainly to enable a greater length of stem to be obtained within reach from the ground, but also to check the spring uprush of sap and so obtain more even production of side growths throughout the length of the tree. The pruning of dwarf pyramids is very similar except that side shoots are given more liberty and may eventually be permitted to grow out to a length of a foot or two.
Thinning Fruits. This is necessary if the set is heavy. Thinning should start in June but not be completed until July, as there is often a natural drop towards the end of June. Large cooking varieties require more drastic thinning than small dessert kinds. In general, not more than one fruit should remain per spur after final thinning, but frequently this may be exceeded with dessert varieties. Large cookers should be spaced 8 in. apart after final thinning, but this may be deferred until the fruits are large enough to be of service. Always retain the most perfect fruits. Watch carefully for any holed by maggots. Thinning may be done by hand or with pointed vine scissors.
Picking. This should start as soon as fruits part readily from the branches. Test by lifting and gently pulling a typical fruit. If it breaks away easily, continue to gather; if it can only be dragged or torn away by force, leave the remainder longer. All fruits should be gathered by the third week in October.
Storing. Only the later varieties are suitable for storing. Early varieties shrivel rapidly and must be used within a few weeks of gathering. The apple store should be cool, moderately ventilated, but with a slightly damp atmosphere. An earthen floor and thatched roof are ideal. Fruits keep best if wrapped singly in waxed paper and placed in three or four layers in boxes. Cooking varieties may be laid out thinly on slatted shelves. Too much ventilation and too dry an atmosphere encourage early shrivelling.
Routine Feeding. Each spring, spread well-rotted dung or compost round trees at the rate of 1 cwt. to 15 sq. yd. for full presumed root spread. Each autumn, give sulphate or muriate of potash at the rate of ¾ to 1 ½ oz. per sq. yd. over same area. Every second autumn give, in addition, basic slag, at 4 oz. per sq. yd. If growth is poor and fruits undersized, give sulphate of ammonia, nitrate of soda, or Nitro-chalk in April at 1 oz. per sq. yd. Alternatively, use fruit tree fertilizer.
Routine Pest Control. Apart from steps taken against pests or diseases which actually occur, it is wise to undertake certain routine measures. In January all trees are sprayed with tar-oil or DNOC winter wash to destroy eggs, hibernating insects, etc. In late March and April trees are sprayed with lime sulphur, full winter strength, or captan against scab. Two applications are given, the first while the flower buds are still. green and tight clustered, the second when they first loosen out and become pink. With this second dose derris is mixed to kill caterpillars. Lime sulphur at summer strength is applied about ten days after petal fall, or captan may be used every fortnight until August. In mid-September grease bands are placed round the trunks of the trees to prevent female winter moths, etc., from ascending to lay their eggs. The bands must be kept sticky until they are finally removed in April.
Lime-sulphur and Bordeaux Scorching. Certain varieties of apples may be scorched by lime sulphur, especially if applied after blossom fall. The principal kinds are Beauty of Bath, Belle de Boskoop, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Lane’s Prince Albert, Lord Derby, Newton Wonder, Rival, and Stirling Castle. Beauty of Bath, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Lane’s Prince Albert and Lord Derby are also damaged by copper fungicides. These varieties should be sprayed with captan which harms none of them.
Propagation. By grafting in March and early April or by budding from mid-July until mid-September. Many methods of grafting are employed, but three, whip grafting, rind grafting and framework grafting, are of most use. New varieties are raised from seed sown outdoors or in frames in March.
Stocks. These are used for grafting and budding and they have a marked effect upon growth and bearing. Stocks are of two main types: crabs, raised from seed and in consequence very variable in character, and Paradise stocks, raised from layers and constant to type. Paradise stocks are classified under numbers prefixed by M (for Mailing) or MM (for MaIling-Merton). M.IX and M.26 are very dwarfing and encourage very early fruiting. They are excellent for cordons, especially on rich soils or for fairly vigorous varieties. M.VII and MM.106 are semi-dwarfing and suitable for estpaliers, dwarf pyramids and small bushes. M.I, M.II, MM.MM.111 are more vigorous and suitable for large bushes. M.XVI and M.24 are still more vigorous and are suitable stock for standard trees. Vigorous stocks must not be used for trained trees.
Whip Grafting. This is employed where stock and scion are not far removed in thickness. On both a long, sloping cut is made, with a second, smaller, incision in the opposite direction, forming a tongue. All cuts should be of the same length and width. Scion and stock are fitted together by means of the tongues and are bound firmly. The whole wounded area is sealed with grafting wax.
Rind or Crown Grafting. This is used where the stock is much thicker than the scion. A vertical incision is made through the bark at the head of the stock. The bark is lifted with a scalpel. The scion is cut in the form of a long, thin wedge and slipped beneath the raised bark. It is bound in position and waxed. If desired, several scions may be inserted round the head of each stock. Top buds of the scions should point outwards.
Framework, or Stub, Grafting is employed to retwork unprofitable trees and get them back into bearing rapidly. Every side growth that is as thick as, or a little thicker than, a lead pencil is grafted separately and the whole main framework of the tree is retained. Several methods are emtployed, the simplest being to make a downward incision near the base of each side shoot and on its upper side, bend the shoot down so as to open this cut and then insert in it a scion previously prepared with a short double wedge cut at the base. The shoot is then released so that it springs back and grips the scion in position. Finally the shoot is cut off just beyond the scion and the wounded area covered with wax. No tying is required. Several hundred scions may be inserted on one tree.
Heading Back. Old trees that are to be rind grafted should be headed back in January. Young stocks are headed back at grafting time.
Scions. These can be collected when pruning. Any one-year growths about the thickness of a pencil or slightly less are suitable. Label and heel in under a north wall or fence to retard growth.
Budding. This is a quicker operation than grafting, but is suitable only for young stocks in which the bark is still thin and pliable. A T-shaped incision is made in this and the flaps lifted with a scalpel. A dormant growth bud on ripe, young wood is cut with a shield-shaped portion of bark. Any wood contained within this is stripped out. The bud is slipped beneath the flaps of bark and bound in position. No waxing is necessary. Stocks are not headed back till the following November.
Height for Buds and Grafts. Insert all buds and grafts on young stocks 9-15 in. above soil level. Grafts on old stocks can be inserted at any convenient height.