The immediate ancestors of our present race of apples were probably introduced by the Romans. The Elder Pliny, writing in the first century A. D. mentions 22 varieties, and some must have been grown in Britain. It was not, however, until the Norman Conquest that apple-growing received a further impetus. The Normans, the Crusaders, and later the Huguenots all brought over apples. The first named variety to be recorded is the Pearmain (1204).

Choosing the most suitable Stock:

What are ‘stocks’ for apples and certain other fruits? Just as apple-trees are grown in various shapes, e.g. bush, cordon, standard and subsequently modified by pruning to meet individual needs, similarly the stock on which a bush etc. is grafted or budded influences the size and time it takes to come into bearing. Mailing II is a semi-dwarfing stock. Two-year-old apples grafted on this stock usually start to crop three years after planting. Mailing I is often used for weak-growing varieties, like Early Victoria. It is useful on wet soils where Mailing II may not thrive and does especially well in Northern Ireland. MM. Ill is a comparatively new stock similar in size to M. II but giving heavier crops. MM. 104 produces a medium-sized tree which crops early and heavily and is successful on poor soils. MM. 106 gives a smaller tree.

These new stocks, which are all identified by the abbreviation MM followed by Arabic numerals, are resistant to the pest known as woolly aphid (American blight). They will probably eventually replace the older stocks. For example, M. IX, a popular stock for cordons as it is very dwarfing and comes into bearing the year after planting, does not thrive on thin soils, has very poor anchorage and is often infected with virus disease. The new MM. 106 (mentioned above) may possibly replace this.

Types of Trees to Plant: Bushes have a main stem 2—3 ft. high, the branches spreading from an open centre. These are useful for small gardens, being relatively easy to manage. Dwarf pyramids have a single main stem 4—6 ft. high from which short side branches are trained in tiers, starting about 2 ft. from soil level. They are more tricky to prune than bush apples.

Cordons are useful where space is restricted but have limited cropping capacities. The oblique cordon is the best for amateurs. This comprises one main stem, side growths being pruned to develop fruit spurs along the entire length. (No long lateral shoots are permitted.) They are usually trained at an angle of 45 degrees and should point south to encourage fruiting and to secure longer stems. A support is needed throughout the life of the cordon and when it reaches the top, the tree can be lowered to 30 degrees. Stopping will be needed in future years. In the absence of a wall or fence, cordons can be supported by wires strained between concrete or wooden posts, the wires being spaced at intervals of 2, 4 and 6 ft. Gordons are also grown vertically, especially with gooseberries, also red and white currants (not black currants as the habit of growth is different).

Espaliers and Fan-shaped Trees are grown along walls and fences. With espaliers 3 to 6 pairs of branches are trained to grow horizontally in tiers at right angles to the main stem. They occupy more space than bushes or cordons. Fan-shaped trees are best bought ready trained by the nurseryman.

Standards are mostly grown on 6 ft. stems and half-standards on 4—472 ft. stems (sometimes 2 ft. 6 in.) Full standards take some years to come into bearing, demand plenty of room and are rarely planted in small gardens. Half-standards are a better proposition and are often grown on Mailing XVI stock.

Soil Preparation:

Apples succeed on most soils, unless drainage is bad and they are in a frost pocket. Sun is essential. Unless the soil is very acid, no lime need be added before planting apple trees. Remove all weeds. If the land intended for planting falls vacant in time a crop of potatoes or other vegetables will help to clear the ground. Dig two spits deep and break up the soil thoroughly so that the roots can spread with ease and good drainage is secured.

Rough material such as brick rubble, also hop manure, compost, peat and coarse sand will help drainage. If the soil is poor or very light, incorporate chopped turves and compost.

How to Plant:

Plant any time between early November and late March in open weather, the earlier the better. Two- or three-year-old trees transplant best. Each planting hole should be wide and deep enough to permit the roots to spread out evenly. Trim any broken roots and if there is a tap root, I.e. a thick root going downwards, remove it as tap roots encourage wood at the expense of fruit.

The Correct Planting Depth is denoted by the soil mark on the main stem, although on very light soils, apples can go a little deeper. Do not cover the graft or union. Plant firmly but leave the surface soil loose to enable air, sun and rain to penetrate.

Bush apples are planted about 15 ft. and dwarf pyramids 4 ½ ft. apart.

Cordons should be 3 ft. apart in a straight line, with the scion (the shoot grafted on to the stock) uppermost at the point of union, and planted at an angle of 45 degrees instead of upright. If more than one row is planted, allow 6 ft. between rows.

Espaliers go at least 20 ft. apart, fan-trained trees slightly less, standards and half-standards 25 ft. apart.

The more space you can give a fruit tree, the better the crop. Close planting encourages upward growth, whereas wide spacing stimulates spreading growth which means more fruit.

Staking and Labelling:

Newly-planted bush apples should be staked although supports can usually be removed after 5 or 6 years (except with trees on Mailing IX). Standards or half-standards must be staked as they have a very heavy weight of top growth. Use old gas or water pipes or wooden stakes, preferably round and pointed at one end and tarred to preserve them (avoid creosote as it may harm the trees). Stakes should be on the side nearest the prevailing wind and driven in at an angle of 45 degrees. Tie tightly with strong cord, rubber piping or a special proprietary type of tie.

Label each tree with the variety’s name, making sure the wire does not cut into the tree, either at the time or later.

The Fertility Rules for Apple Planting:

Do not be frightened by this heading as it may help you to solve a problem which often worries beginners. In some gardens certain apple trees produce little or no fruit. This can also happen with pears, plums, and cherries. What is the reason? Many fruit tree varieties will not carry good crops, however well grown, unless cross-pollinated with another variety. It is therefore necessary to interplant different varieties according to their compatibility one with another — they must, of course, flower about the same time. Certain apples, such as Laxton’s Superb, Laxton’s Advance, Irish Peach and Lord Lambourne are relatively self-fertile, but even these yield better when interplanted.

In the following section, Choice of Varieties:, the pollinators applicable to each apple are given. This information is based on investigations carried out some years ago by the John Innes Horticultural Institution.

Choice of Varieties:

Commercial growers usually concentrate on apple varieties which crop regularly and freely, do not bruise readily and travel well. Continuity of supply is also vital and can only be ensured by growing varieties which ripen successively over a long period. For the market, apples must be of good size, highly coloured and generally attractive in appearance with tough skins and a uniform shape. Commercially, only a limited number of varieties conform to these requirements, e.g. Beauty of Bath, Bramley’s Seedling and Cox’s Orange Pippin.

Amateurs need not worry about these considerations. They can choose some varieties which do well locally but are unsuited to large-scale cultivation. It is always helpful to consult local nurserymen and others who can give ‘on the spot’ advice. D’Arcy Spice, Egremont Russet and Irish Peach are examples of dessert apples which are excellent for amateurs but of littie use commercially. The relatively new Winston, a dessert variety which keeps up to April, is too small for the market but there are few better kinds for the amateur. In areas liable to late spring frosts, varieties like Ellison’s Orange, Laxton’s Epicure and Laxton’s Fortune are recommended as they are usually fairly resistant to frost damage. The varieties recommended embrace apples which are ready at different seasons, some for dessert, others for cooking. Individual peculiarities are noted, e.g. resistance or susceptility to disease, and so on.

Early Dessert Varieties:

Beauty of Bath. A very popular early market variety ready in early August, though in an exceptional season may be ready to pick 3—4 weeks earlier. Crops regularly with a good brisk flavour but must be eaten within a week of gathering. A ‘tip-bearer’ which needs careful pruning — see notes on pruning of apples. Liable to drop its fruits prematurely — see JUNE DROP.

Pollinators — Cox’s Orange Pippin, Irish Peach, Laxton’s Fortune. Irish Peach. Ready just before Beauty of Bath. Bruises rather easily but resistant to disease. Another ‘tip-bearer’ needing careful pruning.

Generally considered self-fertile but Lord Lambourne used as a pollinator will improve cropping.

LaxtorCs Advance. A useful variety for mid-August with a fine crisp flavour but must be eaten immediately it ripens.

Self-fertile, but Irish Peach, Laxton’s Fortune or Lord Lambourne should improve cropping.

Laxtort s Epicure. Ready to eat at the end of August about 10 days before Worcester Pearmain. A heavy and regular cropper but must be eaten soon after picking. Resistant to frost damage and apple scab.

Pollinators — Cox’s Orange Pippin and Laxton’s Superb.

Worcester Pearmain. Because it colours rather quickly, this variety is often gathered too early in the season when the strawberry-like flavour is not apparent and the flesh somewhat tough. It should be harvested in early September and eaten as soon as possible afterwards. Another ‘tip-bearer’ needing careful pruning. Resistant to spring frosts, but may drop its fruits prematurely and is susceptible to apple scab.

Pollinators — Cox’s Orange Pippin, Laxton’s Superb.

Tydeman’s Early Worcester. Ready 10—14 days before Worcester Pearmain with a less tough skin and a rather better flavour. Resistant to apple scab.

Cox’s Orange Pippin and Ellison’s Orange are suitable pollinators.

Mid-Season Dessert Varieties:

Egremont Russet. In season from October to November or even later. Does well in town gardens, making a fairly small compact tree. Also successful in Scotland. Resistant to apple scab. Pollinators — Laxton’s Advance, Lord Lambourne. Ellison’s Orange. An easy variety for town gardens, although some people dislike the aniseed flavour which develops after the fruits are picked. In season for about 3 weeks from end of September. Inclined to biennial bearing, but resistant to frost damage. Liable to drop its fruit prematurely. Does well in Scotland.

Pollinators — Cox’s Orange Pippin, James Grieve, Laxton’s Superb, Peasgood’s Nonsuch.

James Grieve. Grown commercially as a pollinator for Cox’s Orange Pippin and a heavy cropper in most gardens, although liable to canker, scab and brown rot on rich or sandy soils. Fruits inclined to bruise rather easily.

Pollinators — Cox’s Orange Pippin, Lord Lambourne, Peasgood’s Nonsuch.

Laxton’s Fortune. Ready for picking about the same time as Worcester Pearmain, but keeps a little longer. Delicious aromatic flavour. Resistant to frost damage and apple scab. Does well in Scotland. Pollinators — Laxton’s Advance, Sunset.

Lord Lambourne. An easy variety which crops very heavily and usually demands some thinning. Ready about mid-October and is often still good eating a month later. A ‘tip-bearer’, necessitating careful pruning. Liable to apple scab. Pollinators — Laxton’s Fortune, Sunset, Worcester Pearmain.

Merton Worcester. Ready immediately after Worcester Pearmain with similar more juicy fruits. Resistant to apple scab. Pollinators — Cox’s Orange Pippin, James Grieve.

Late Dessert Varieties:

Belle de Boskoop. A heavy cropper with a crisp, rather sharp flavour that should not be used for dessert until February and March. (It makes a good cooker from October to February.) Resistant to apple scab and apple canker. This variety is a triploid, I.e. it has 51 chromosomes and bad pollen (most of the apples recommended are diploids with good pollen). It should therefore have two diploid varieties with it to secure satisfactory pollination.

Suitable varieties include Irish Peach, James Grieve, Laxton’s Advance, Laxton’s Fortune, Lord Lambourne, Sunset.

Cox’s Orange Pippin. Still very widely planted by commercial growers and probably unsurpassed for flavour by any other apple, although the fairly new Laxton’s Favourite is considered by some to be the best flavoured of all varieties. Cox is unfortunately a tricky variety to grow well. It dislikes damp, heavy soils, preferring rich, warm, well-drained land and generous manurial treatment. Very prone to disease and frost damage. Picking should not begin until the fruit parts freely from the tree — about mid-September on light land, three weeks later on heavier ground. Cox must be stored for a few weeks before the full flavour is noticeable and is at its best from November to January or even later. Cox is also useful for cooking. Alternatives like Claygate Pearmain, Sunset and Lord Lambourne are often recommended for gardens where Cox is difficult to grow, but although they grow better and fruit more heavily, the typical Cox flavour is missing. Pollinators — James Grieve, Laxton’s Superb.

D’Arcy Spice. For flavour this old variety is only just behind Cox’s Orange Pippin. It prefers a warm, dry soil and does especially well in Essex. Ready to pick in October and best eaten from December onwards. Sometimes keeps till April. Resistant to apple scab, but liable to crop biennially. Pollinator — Beauty of Bath.

Laxton’s Superb. The appearance of this Apple resembles Cox’s Orange Pippin, though duller. The flavour is exceptionally good. Superb is in season from December to February but with care will keep a month or so longer. It does especially well in Northern Ireland.

Tends to biennial bearing, cropping very heavily in an ‘on’ year. Fairly severe thinning of fruits may help to prevent this tendency. A minimum thinning of laterals to allow free access of light and to encourage fruiting is advisable. Resistant to frost damage and apple canker but susceptible to brown rot and apple scab.

Although classed as self-fertile, is best planted with James Grieve and/or Lord Lambourne to improve cropping.

Merton Prolific. A regular, heavy cropper which requires thinning. It may be picked green in late October and eaten from Christmas until well into January.

Pollinators — Cox’s Orange Pippin, Laxton’s Superb, Merton Worcester.

Merton Russet. A promising new late-keeping variety which should be worth trying in gardens. It keeps for a month longer than Merton Prolific with a more acid flavour.

The same pollinators should suffice.

Orleans Reinette. A neglected variety which is ideal for small gardens.

It is in season from late November to February and is particularly good eating at Christmas. Very sweet flavour. Does well on light, rich land and crops regularly though not heavily.

Pollinators — Annie Elizabeth, Edward VII, Royal Jubilee.

Sunset. In season from October to February. Appearance rather similar to Cox’s Orange Pippin, flavour possibly a little sweeter, but without the true Cox aroma. Resistant to frost and apple scab.

Pollinators — Laxton’s Epicure, Laxton’s Superb, Lord Lambourne.

Winston. An outstanding newcomer which is excellent eating from late January to April. Resistant to frost but liable to apple scab. Does well in cold, exposed gardens.

Pollinators — Cox’s Orange Pippin, Ellison’s Orange, Laxton’s Superb.

Culinary Varieties.

Annie Elizabeth. In season from December to May and useful for either cooking or dessert. Established trees crop heavily. Fruits very liable to fall in windy weather, owing to extremely short stalks. Resistant to apple scab, but liable to apple mildew.

Sometimes termed self-fertile, but better interplanted with Cox’s Orange Pippin or Ellison’s Orange.

Arthur Turner. In season from late July to October. Very beautiful when in flower. Should be cooked rather longer than most culinary varieties. Resistant to frost.

Pollinators — Cox’s Orange Pippin, James Grieve.

Bramlefs Seedling. Should only be planted where plenty of room is available as it is a very vigorous, spreading grower and quite unsuitable for a cordon. Nevertheless, some consider it the best of all cookers. A ‘tip-bearer’ necessitating careful pruning. Very liable to apple scab and frost. Should be planted with two pollinators, e.g. Arthur Turner, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Early Victoria, James Grieve, Worcester Pearmain. Crawley Beauty. The latest-flowering of all apples and therefore usually escapes spring frosts. In season from November to March. Can be used for dessert. Resistant to apple scab. Pollinators — Edward VII, Orleans Reinette, Royal Jubilee.

Lord Derby. A favourite cooker in Kent, also the north as it tolerates damp conditions. In season October to November.

Pollinators — Ellison’s Orange, Laxton’s Superb, Peasgood’s Nonsuch.

Peasgood’s Nonsuch. The variety par excellence for apple dumplings. Enormous fruits which can be eaten raw when fully ripe. Best on light, rich land, failing on heavy clay. Liable to brown rot and frost. Pollinators — Cox’s Orange Pippin, Worcester Pearmain. Royal Jubilee. Another cooker for planting in gardens, not liable to spring frosts as it flowers late, and is also resistant to apple scab. In season from October to Christmas.

Pollinators — Annie Elizabeth, Crawley Beauty, Edward VII.

Thinning of Apples:

Thinning is advisable where varieties like Laxton’s Superb, Lord Lambourne, Merton Prolific are carrying a heavy crop. With dessert varieties, the ‘king’ or centre apple on each cluster is removed after the fruits have set. Any fruits closer than 4 in. are also removed. For cookers, greater space is allowed. If necessary, a final thinning can follow the natural June drop. It is best to cut off the fruits with scissors, otherwise one may pull off apples which should have been retained.

With Laxton’s Superb and other varieties inclined to crop biennially half the fruits may be removed after they have set. It is claimed that this treatment produces half a crop annually instead of a heavy crop one year and little or none the next season.

How to Pick Apples:

Apples and all other fruits must be picked only when completely dry. Damaged or diseased fruits must be eaten at once or else destroyed. Diseased specimens left on the tree at the end of the season will carry on disease to the following year.

To ascertain whether an apple is ready to gather raise the fruit with the palm of the hand, turning it slightly; if it parts readily from the spur, it is just right for picking. Never tug at the stalk, otherwise the fruit spurs may be damaged. Do not allow the stalks to remain on the tree as they provide a source of entry for parasitic fungi such as brown rot. Apples devoid of stalks usually decay more rapidly. Remember that all fruits on a single tree do not ripen simultaneously. Two or three pickings may be needed. The topmost apples are usually ready first, then those at the side and finally those in the middle which are usually shaded or otherwise concealed.

If apples are picked too soon, they invariably shrivel as their water supply has been removed prematurely and there is no method of adding water after harvesting. A shrivelled apple is often almost flavourless. Dessert apples especially never develop their full flavour if only partially ripe when gathered. Avoid bruising, particularly with early varieties like Beauty of Bath, Irish Peach and Laxton’s Advance which have less firm flesh than most mid-season and late kinds and bruise very easily. These early varieties do not keep and must always be picked as soon as they are ripe. James Grieve (mid-season) bruises readily. Never throw apples into the basket or other receptacle used for gathering.

How to Store Apples:

As already emphasized, only choose clean, disease-free apples. A cool, dark place where the air can be kept moist is ideal. Avoid hot, dry lofts, attics, or cupboards especially airing cupboards. A spare room is feasible, provided it is not too dry. Fluctuating temperatures and draughts cause shrivelling.

If a shed is available, it should have a tiled or slated roof — a wooden shed tends to ‘heat up’ too quickly unless in shade. Earthen floors can be damped down from time to time to keep the atmosphere moist. Apples are best placed in paper-lined, shallow trays, individual fruits being wrapped in specially prepared oiled papers, thereby preventing the spread of storage rot and improving flavour and keeping qualities.

Feeding of Apples:

Animal manures may be applied as a surface mulch in summer to conserve moisture, particularly on light land. Apples frequently suffer from potash deficiency, especially on light soils. Potash in any form is slow acting and applications of sulphate of potash may be given in December at the rate of 2 oz. per sq. yd. — wood ashes provide an alternative source, but are much lower in potash content. Heavier dressings will, therefore, be needed. Potash is often supposed to render plants more resistant to disease, but though this view is no longer generally accepted, it certainly helps to harden the foliage. Heavy dressings of nitrogen are generally considered inadvisable, but recent experience tends to suggest that this may be incorrect. Sulphate of ammonia or ‘Nitro-Chalk’ may be applied in February to trees likely to crop well the same year — the number of fruit buds will be apparent if trees are examined early in the winter. Remember that the feeding roots extend at least as far as the spread of the branches. A complete fertiliser will also be found beneficial if applied broadcast in February or early March.

General Hints on Pruning:

The reasons for fruit tree pruning can be summarised as follows: 1. To help in maintaining the vigour of the tree. 2. To produce a shapely, well-balanced tree with evenly spaced branches. 3. To help the formation of fruit buds where they are needed. 4. To allow light and air to reach all parts of the tree, thereby assisting in spraying and dusting against pests and diseases and facilitating the picking of the fruit.

Pruning varies according to the bearing habit of the particular fruit. Apples carry their fruit chiefly on two-year, or even older, wood — pears, sweet cherries and red and white currants are similar.

Very severe pruning is often detrimental. Excessive pruning of apples, for example, encourages heavy growth of wood at the expense of fruiting. It is impossible to prescribe cast iron rules for the pruning of apples or any other fruits, since the type of stock, age of the tree, bearing habit of the particular variety and so on, must all be taken into account. Generally speaking, the stronger the growth, the lighter the pruning, e.g. Bramley’s Seedling. The weaker the growth the more severe the pruning. The following notes provide only an outline of the subject which can be very complicated.

There are two seasons of pruning. Winter pruning generally stimulates wood growth. Summer pruning endeavours to encourage the formation of fruit buds which are produced on short side growths, known as spurs. It is essential to distinguish between fruit buds and wood buds. The former are large and somewhat rounded, the latter small, pointed, and pressed closely against the shoots.

Pruning of Newly Planted Apples:

Some consider that pruning of newly planted apples should be delayed until the tree has recovered from the ‘shock’ of transplanting and has begun to establish itself. On the other hand, since the roots are to some extend injured during removal from the nursery to the garden, they cannot absorb sufficient nutriment for many months for the growing leaves and fruit buds. All things considered, it is probably best to prune after planting. Remember always to make a clean cut, immediately above a bud. The leading shoot may be cut back by two-thirds of its length and the laterals reduced to 5 or 6 buds. At the same time all weak and crowded shoots should be removed.

Pruning of Established Apples:

Summer Pruning. This is practised on most types other than standards and half standards. Summer pruning is undertaken from early July onwards, starting with early varieties like Beauty of Bath and Irish Peach, and finishing with later kinds such as Cox’s Orange Pippin and Laxton’s Superb. The leaders at the end of each branch are left unpruned. Some laterals may be pruned back to 5 or 6 leaves from the base, others being left full length.

Winter Pruning. This should be undertaken after leaf-fall. First remove any misplaced branches closer than 1 ft. apart. Leaders are shortened by about one-half or one-third and some laterals reduced to 4 or 5 buds from the base, others being left unpruned.

Pruning of Gordons and Espaliers:

Cordons are generally pruned more severely than bush trees. Summer pruning consists of cutting back the laterals to 5 or 6 leaves from the base, leaders being left unpruned. Winter pruning consists of cutting back the laterals still further — to 2 or 3 leaves from the base. It is generally considered inadvisable to prune the leaders, but with varieties such as Worcester Pearmain, where buds do not break very freely, removing about one-third of each leader in winter will encourage the growth of laterals and fruit buds. Espaliers are usually purchased ready trained, and the branches should be pruned as separate cordons.

Pruning of Tip Bearing Varieties:

Some varieties fruit on the tips of laterals. Examples are Beauty of Bath, Bramley’s Seedling, Irish Peach and Worcester Pearmain. If all the laterals were cut back severely, little fruit would be produced, hence it is advisable merely to tip those beyond 6 or 8 inches in length, leaving the others unpruned that season.

Pest and Disease Control:

Is fruit tree spraying really essential? This is a question the amateur frequently asks, suggesting that as some gardeners achieve excellent results without bothering about insecticides, fungicides and the like, it should be sufficient to give reasonable attention to the trees and leave Nature to do the rest. However, the reasons underlying the necessity for spraying and similar chemical treatments may not always be obvious.

Although modern apple varieties may escape serious damage for several years in succession, insect pests and fungi are always present and ready to multiply to epidemic proportions whenever conditions favour their development. Modern cropping methods, particularly in commercial orchards, necessitate the planting of large numbers of individual varieties, thus facilitating the rapid spread of any pests and diseases. Control of most apple pests or diseases should offer no serious difficulties if the underlying principles are understood. The chief aim is to attack the pest or disease at whichever stage of its life history it is most vulnerable. Care must also be taken to select and apply a chemical at a strength that will destroy the pest or disease without injury to the plant. Winter spraying with tar-oil or DNC petroleum washes destroys the eggs of various aphids, so that they fail to hatch out in early spring to suck the sap from leaves, shoots and flower buds. Spring and early summer applications of lime-sulphur or captan deposit a fungicidal covering on the foliage and fruit, thus preventing the spores of apple scab from germinating.

Remember that many apple pests and diseases may never occur at all in a particular garden. Weather, locality and soil conditions determine to some extent the incidence of these troubles.

A small number of routine sprayings must be carried out each year if really first-class crops are desired. Other control measures should be adopted if attacks of particular pests and diseases materialise, remembering that occurrence in one season often means that preventive sprayings should be undertaken the following year.

General Precautions. Before chemical remedies are considered, stress must be laid on the need for good cultivation and garden hygiene. When the soil is well cultivated, good drainage maintained and the feeding programme, whether with farmyard manure or artificials, balanced, plants are more resistant to many pests and diseases and are often observed to ‘grow away’ from their effects. Starved plants are frequently unhealthy.

Trees must not be overcrowded, as this hinders healthy development and prevents efficient spraying. If necessary, thin out to give evenly spaced branches. Wounds caused by removing unwanted branches may be painted over with white lead paint to prevent the entrance of fungi such as apple canker. Loose bark harbours many different insect pests and should be periodically removed at pruning time. Remove and burn all diseased and dead wood. Prunings should also be burnt, as they provide a useful source of potash. Destroy rotting fruit, especially any ‘mummied’ apples and plums full of resting brown rot spores. All healthy, soft garden waste should be reserved for the compost heap.

Grease-Banding of Apple Trees. Grease-banding is one method of protecting fruit trees from caterpillar attack in spring. It may be undertaken as a routine control measure every autumn.

From September onwards the wingless females of the winter and mottled umber moths begin to lay their eggs on fruit tree branches, followed in March by the March moth. In spring the eggs hatch out into tiny loopcr caterpillars, which feed on young foliage and even fruitlets, thus causing severe defoliation and preventing the tree from carrying a full crop. A single female may deposit as many as 400 eggs. Treatment consists in tying ‘greased’ or ‘sticky’ bands such as ‘Stictite’ firmly round the trunk and on any supporting stakes in late September before the pests start to ascend.

Where there are more than a dozen trees a tree-banding compound should be used. This may be applied direct to the bark of trees over years old. Dead insects, leaves, etc., should be removed from time to time to prevent the formation of ‘bridges’ over which fresh insects might crawl.

Do not confuse tree banding with the July trap banding of apple trees, sometimes practised to prevent codling moth caterpillars from descending the trunks to hibernate in the soil. Winter Washing of Fruit Trees. All tree and soft fruits (save strawberries) benefit from winter washing. Tar-oil winter washes applied during the dormant period (that is when the buds are closed and unswollen), control the eggs of various aphids (woolly aphid excepted), scale insects and apple sucker. They also destroy moss and lichen on the trees and have an invigorating effect on growth. Where red spider and capsid bug are troublesome, a DNG wash is preferred to tar-oil, since this destroys aphids, red spider and capsid bug in one operation. It also greatly reduces apple sucker and caterpillar infestations. DNC is not quite as effective for sucker as tar-oil and it is therefore best to substitute tar-oil for DNG once every 3 or 4 years to prevent any gradual build-up over a period in the apple sucker population.

Always complete winter pruning before spraying, otherwise material destined to be removed will be sprayed unnecessarily, and cover green vegetables, flowers and bulbs beneath trees to be sprayed with sacking to prevent spray drop. Give special attention to the tips and spurs where many of the eggs are laid. Only those eggs actually wetted by the spray will be prevented from hatching. Thoroughly clean all equipment after use.

Spring Spraying. New synthetic insecticides, notably BHC and Pyrethrin, are now applied in spring, as a more economical technique than winter washing. For example, the most suitable chemical for use against aphids (greenfly, etc.) is BHC applied alone or in combination with insecticide. The ideal time to apply a combined product is probably at the bud-burst stage, I.e. when the leaves are starting to grow out of the buds, early-flowering varieties being sprayed first.

Literature issued by insecticide manufacturers should be consulted for the latest recommendations as experiments are always in progress to discover the best treatments for the various insect and other pests. The pests described are the more important of those likely to infest apple trees.

Insect Pests.

Apple Aphids (Greenfly). Not less than 8 different species of greenfly feed upon apple trees in this country. From the gardener’s point of view, the most important are probably green apple aphid, rosy apple aphid or blue bug, and woolly aphid or American blight.

Green Apple Aphid. Symptoms: This aphid feeds on apples, pears and quinces. Eggs are laid in quantity in early autumn on apple shoots and along the stems. The eggs are at first yellowish-green, subsequently turning a shiny black. The aphids emerge in April and May and are found in clusters inside the curled leaves and on the tips of the shoots. Treatment: Winter spraying with tar-oil or DNC petroleum washes gives control, provided it is really thorough. If this has not been done, a BHC insecticide should be applied in spring before the aphids start to curl the leaves, preferably at the bud-burst stage, at the end of March or shortly after, depending on the season.

Rosy Apple Aphid or Blue Bug. Symptoms: This species attacks both apples and pears and is more common than the green apple aphid. Eggs are laid singly, unlike the latter species. They may be found both on the main branches and the tree trunks in early autumn. The aphids emerge the following spring, causing considerable leaf curl as well as distortion of the shoots and young fruits. The leaves become sticky from the excreta of the aphids, shrivel and drop prematurely. Treatment: As for the green apple aphid.

Woolly Aphid (’American Blight ). Symptoms: Differs from other species of aphid in that it does not vacate the apple for other host plants, but remains throughout the year. From March to September, and sometimes later,. a white woolly covering may be found on twigs, shoots and branches, the insects being present in large numbers underneath this white excretion. The openings left by the depredations of the pest frequently result in apple canker. Although not so evident during the winter months, the insects are present on the trees, hiding deep in crevices of the bark and canker wounds.

Treatment: A 10 per cent solution of tar-oil winter wash painted on all infested branches, etc. Do not paint the growing portions of the trees. A BHC spray may be applied either in early spring or at petal-fall. Apple Capsid. Symptoms: Eggs are laid from July to August, hatching out the following April and May. The immature bugs feed on the foliage, young shoots and growing fruits. Injury is denoted by small punctures with reddish-brown marks on the leaves (especially along the mid-ribs), these punctures soon turning black. Attacked fruits exhibit irregular, corky patches and these are unmistakeable.

Treatment: Tar-oil washes are ineffective but DNC petroleum can be applied between mid-February and mid-March when the buds are moving. Alternatively, apply Pyrethrin at the green cluster stage, I.e. when the young leaves are spreading out.

Apple Codling Moth. Symptoms: This pest was known to gardeners in the reign of Elizabeth I when it was referred to as the Apple ‘Worm’. It is a species of tortrix moth responsible for maggoty apples and sometimes pears and walnuts. It is more troublesome in hot summers and in warm climates such as South Africa, California and Italy may have up to 7 generations in a season.

Sawfly and codling moth damage are often confused. Adult sawflies operate during April-May but codling moth is not normally active until June-July or later. The codling moth larvae enter the fruit and most of the damage is found near the core and seeds. There is no smell associated with the codling moth caterpillar, but the sawfly grub emits an unpleasant odour. The codling moth lays its eggs in June and July on the ‘cheek’ of the apple. These hatch out in a week or so and the young grubs tunnel their way into the heart of the fruits, devouring the pips and often the core as well — if a maggoty apple is cut open during July the pinkish caterpillar will usually be found.

Treatment: Remove all loose bark which furnishes a hiding place for the caterpillars seeking quarters in which to pupate. Birds, especially green tits, can then find the pupae. Tree trunks should be banded in July with sacking, corrugated cardboard or hay to trap the caterpillars descending to hibernate in the soil. They often hibernate in supporting canes used for cordon apples. Remove and burn the bands in September.

All infested apples should be gathered and destroyed or else given to poultry and pigs, otherwise the grubs inside will escape. Organic insecticide applied about the third week in June and again in July controls this pest.

Apple Sawjly. Symptoms: The adult lays its eggs during the flowering period, using the ovipositor at the rear of the abdomen to make a hole for entry. The ‘strike’ or scar is visible just below the calyx of the flower and can be seen when the latter is examined from behind the petals. The ‘king’ or central flowers are generally attacked. This ‘strike’ enables the gardener to prepare for subsequent control measures. Six to fourteen days later the eggs hatch, depending on weather conditions, and the grubs bore into the fruitlets. They burrow close under the skin of the young fruits. As the fruit develops, the skin covering these tunnels may break down, leaving a track or ribbon-like scar which is characteristic of the pest — it should not be confused with the scar from capsid damage, which is characterised by irregular, rough, blotchy markings. A number of fruits are attacked before the sawfly grubs are fully grown. The fruits exhibit an acrid aroma emanating from the sawfly.

Treatment: Apply a BHC insecticide at petal-fall. It is essential to drive the spray forcibly downwards into the now ‘petalless’ blossom trusses. If apple scab has been troublesome, add lime-sulphur, wettable sulphur or captan to the BHC to obtain a dual control.

Apple Sucker. Symptoms: Pale strawish-coloured elongated eggs are laid in clusters round the fruit spurs in autumn before the leaves fall. In spring the eggs hatch and the yellowish-white nymphs enter the flower trusses and suck the sap, excreting tiny sticky, iridescent globules, by means of which their presence can easily be detected. The flower trusses are often completely destroyed or look as though injured by frost. Treatment: Routine spraying with tar-oil winter wash or BHC in early spring.

Fruit Tree Red Spider. Symptoms: This pest is a mite, not a spider. It attacks a wide range of fruits. The mite lays its winter eggs in large numbers on the spurs, shoots and trunks. In sunny weather during the dormant period, the masses of red eggs can often be noticed from a distance. The mite emerges in April and May and sucks the sap from the undersides of the leaves, on which it later proceeds to produce summer eggs. Seven or more generations may occur in one season. Affected leaves turn a characteristic papery-brown colour, especially in dry summers.

Treatment: A DNC winter wash applied from mid-February to early March destroys the eggs. Lime-sulphur sprays as applied for scab appear to give some degree of control but a dcrris spray during the first week of June and repeated three weeks later is usually more effective. In recent years, malathion and CPCBS have been used in late spring and summer, and manufacturers’ recommendations should be followed closely. Winter Moth, Mottled Umber Moth and March Moth Caterpillars. All fruit trees and bushes, as well as woodland trees, are subject to attacks by winter moth caterpillars. Grease-banding in September will prevent the ascent of the wingless females. Winter washing with tar-oil of DNC petroleum gives some control of the eggs. Early spring applications of Pyrethrin or BHC are effective against these and other caterpillars. Wasps. Spraying is useless to control wasps. Fruits may be protected by muslin or paper bags. If the nests can be found, sprinkle a liberal handful of a derris or BHC insecticide at the entrances.

Fungus Diseases:

Brown Rot. Symptoms: apples, pears, plums, cherries and apricots are all attacked by a brown rot fungus which enters through frost cracks, fruit splitting after heavy rains, scab infection, wasp bites, injury by earwigs etc. Flies also distribute the spores from one infected fruit to another. The spores can be carried for long distances by wind. Infection starts on one side of the apple, and within a week the entire fruit is affected.

Stored apples are often attacked, the initial injury taking place before harvest. It frequently spreads to spurs and branches, opening the way for canker. Laxton’s Superb and James Grieve are very susceptible. Treatment: Spraying with fungicides seems of no practical value. Destroy all diseased fruits, whether on the tree or on the ground, also infected spurs and branches — infected fruits may shrivel up, hang on the trees and have a ‘mummied’ appearance, carrying the fungus over to the following summer. They can also fall to the ground where they are eaten by birds, slugs etc.

Apple Canker. Symptoms: This disease is most troublesome on heavy, badly-drained and low-lying land. Infection occurs as a result of cracks or wounds from injury by apple scab, broken branches or bad pruning. Easily identified by dying areas of the bark, the growth being subsequently girdled by these dead areas. Cox’s Orange Pippin, James Grieve, Lord Derby, and Worcester Pearmain are very susceptible. Treatment: Cut out and burn infected shoots. If the wound is large paint it with ‘Medo’, white lead paint or undiluted tar-oil wash. Spraying with captan to control scab may help to reduce the likelihood of canker infections.

Apple Mildew. Symptoms: The first signs appear on the young leaves as they unfold in early spring. Flower buds are often affected as well.

Damage is characterised by the white powdery appearance of the foliage, while infected flowers are smaller and paler than usual and fail to set.

Cox’s Orange Pippin (especially on hot, dry soils) and Bramley’s Seedling are susceptible.

Treatment: The fungus over-winters on the previous year’s wood and may be detected in autumn and winter by the silvery-grey appearance of infected twigs, which should be cut out and burnt.

Spraying with lime-sulphur or wettable sulphur to control scab helps to arrest this disease. Karathane is also effective against-mildcw. Note that the American fungicide captan which is highly effective against scab does not control mildew.

Apple Scab.

The most widespread apple disease and often a real headache to commercial growers. Cox’s Orange Pippin, James Grieve, Laxton’s

Superb and Worcester Pearmain are very liable to infection, as is Bramley’s Seedling.

A fairly dry spring means less scab, April and May being the key months. If the weather is wet at this time, the over-wintering spores are shot out from dead leaves on the ground to set up new infections. When the initial infection is light by reason of dry weather then there is less chance of serious summer attacks.

Symptoms: The typical black spots and patches on the fruits, which so often develop into large, deep cracks on the skin, are obvious enough but the fungus first attacks the leaves which show brown or black blotches on either surface. Young wood may be infected. On Cox’s Orange Pippin this frequently causes the death of the growing tips. Sometimes attacks occur just before harvesting, resulting in ‘storage scab’.

Apple scab is usually less troublesome in or near towns as soot and smoke appear to discourage the development of the fungus spores. For the same reason, rose black spot is more serious in country gardens. Treatment: Burn all diseased wood. Captan is probably the best fungicide and commercial growers may spray every 10 days from early April to July to secure a constant film of fungicide on the trees. Captan has a good effect on the foliage and gives an excellent finish to the fruits. Apply strictly to the manufacturer’s directions as even in a garden several applications will be needed.


Apples are propagated by budding in July and August or by grafting in very early spring. See PROPAGATION. Cuttings are not a practical proposition with apples, pears, etc. Most varieties refuse to root.

Apples can be raised from seed sown outdoors in shallow drills in either autumn or spring. They may not fruit for 7—10 years, do not breed true and are likely to be inferior to the parent, or named varieties generally. However, if the gardener is patient and prepared for disappointment, but with a slight chance of success, sowing apple pips is worth while. (With peaches it is, however, possible to raise quite good specimens from stones — see PEACH.)

New apple varieties are raised by crossing two distinct varieties. Many years must elapse before a nurseryman can market a new variety, as even after it has fruited the cropping capacity must be tested thoroughly.

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