Why do I have fewer ap­ples?

Amateur Gardening - - A Gardener’s Miscellany -

Q We have sev­eral ap­ple trees in the gar­den, and they usu­ally pro­vide fruit to eat and store with some left over for the birds. Why are there so few this year – is it just down to the dry sum­mer? Jenny Bar­ber-Ri­ley, Birm­ing­ham A Drought can cause smaller fruits, but it doesn’t ex­plain scarcity. We may need to look fur­ther back to make an assess­ment. Most ap­ple trees pro­duced a gen­er­ous har­vest in 2017, with fruits lay­ing thick on the ground, pro­vid­ing a bo­nanza for black­birds, pheas­ants, red­wings and field­fares. A good year of­ten ap­pears to ex­haust the trees, and af­ter the feast can come a famine.

The habit of tak­ing a year off is known as bi­en­nial bear­ing and some va­ri­eties, no­tably ‘Bram­ley’s Seedling’ and ‘Lax­ton’s Su­perb’, are more prone than oth­ers. Hor­mones (es­pe­cially gib­berellins) pro­duced by the seeds of a bumper crop can in­hibit flower bud for­ma­tion. Wind and rain dur­ing blos­som time will de­ter pol­li­nat­ing in­sects, while frosty weather can dam­age fruit buds and ham­per the devel­op­ment of a pol­li­na­tion tube to carry the male ga­mete down the style to the ovary. Ap­ple va­ri­eties flower at slightly dif­fer­ent times, so are vari­ably af­fected by poor weather.

Our small or­chard grows on a chilly slope and so to hedge my bets, I’ve planted some up­right cor­dons (see left) in a more shel­tered spot fur­ther up the gar­den. Th­ese cor­dons set a good crop ev­ery year and, be­cause the fruits are ac­ces­si­ble, I can thin them eas­ily, which places less of a bur­den on the tree.

‘Bram­ley’s Seedling’ is sus­cep­ti­ble to bi­en­nial bear­ing In the colder part of my gar­den, early fruit­ing va­ri­eties set hardly any ap­ples but later ones gave a moder­ate crop

‘James Grieve’ ap­ple cor­dons planted in a shel­tered spot

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.