On the lookout for canker
Bare branches give you the chance to check over trees for defects such as canker, a fungal disease that can attack apple trees.
Waterlogged, acidic soils can make the fungus more prevalent. Some varieties show resistance (‘Katy’) whereas others are more susceptible (‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’). Canker shows itself as sunken patches of bark often surrounded by corky lesions. The cankers spread and encircle a stem, which often snaps or dies off.
Cut out any canker that you see, pruning well into the healthy wood. Cuts can be daubed in wound paint (e.g. arbrex) to deter re-infection.
(left) canker and (below) painting a wound