Ancient apple tree survival help

Xerocles

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Well. Define ancient. These were planted when I was a young teenager. I'm 67 now. I never heard anything about the trees or any apples they produced. I had forgotten about them. My dad passed over 20 years ago, so I know that no one has so much as looked at them since. They're in a heavily overgrown area on the hill beside my house. I rediscovered them during the winter. I seem to remember him planting 4. I found evidence of three, although one was only a rotten stump. The other two were in pitiful shape. Dormant of course when I rediscovered them. But no signs of life. Twigs and whole limbs rotten and brittle. Totally encased by Vines and brambles. Surrounded by other trees. 1 Oak 8 in in diameter so close to the trunk of the Apple that I had to chainsaw at an angle to drop it.
Anyway. Last week as I was taking a walk up the hillside, I was drawn to the apple trees. Lo and behold, I discovered some green buds. I spent the last two days clearing around the apple trees. So far I have cut 8 major trees within two feet of each tree. I have an 8ft tall pile of Vines and brambles that I have removed.
Now the trees are decidedly in poor condition. Lots and lots of dead wood. But each has several well spaced limbs with green leaf buds. The only thing I know to do now that I've given them air and sunlight is to perhaps spread some 10-10-10 around what should be the drip line. And wait and hope for the best until next fall / winter to try and prune out some of the Dead wood and shape them up a bit.
I have little hope of any fruit this year, if ever. I don't know if they ever produced. But I like the idea of giving them a new lease on life and an opportunity.
Any suggestions / advice are heartily sought.
 

Xerocles

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Well. Define ancient. These were planted when I was a young teenager. I'm 67 now. I never heard anything about the trees or any apples they produced. I had forgotten about them. My dad passed over 20 years ago, so I know that no one has so much as looked at them since. They're in a heavily overgrown area on the hill beside my house. I rediscovered them during the winter. I seem to remember him planting 4. I found evidence of three, although one was only a rotten stump. The other two were in pitiful shape. Dormant of course when I rediscovered them. But no signs of life. Twigs and whole limbs rotten and brittle. Totally encased by Vines and brambles. Surrounded by other trees. 1 Oak 8 in in diameter so close to the trunk of the Apple that I had to chainsaw at an angle to drop it.
Anyway. Last week as I was taking a walk up the hillside, I was drawn to the apple trees. Lo and behold, I discovered some green buds. I spent the last two days clearing around the apple trees. So far I have cut 8 major trees within two feet of each tree. I have an 8ft tall pile of Vines and brambles that I have removed.
Now the trees are decidedly in poor condition. Lots and lots of dead wood. But each has several well spaced limbs with green leaf buds. The only thing I know to do now that I've given them air and sunlight is to perhaps spread some 10-10-10 around what should be the drip line. And wait and hope for the best until next fall / winter to try and prune out some of the Dead wood and shape them up a bit.
I have little hope of any fruit this year, if ever. I don't know if they ever produced. But I like the idea of giving them a new lease on life and an opportunity.
Any suggestions / advice are heartily sought.
P.S. if it will help, I would be happy to post pics. Did not simply because they just look like old mostly dead trees.
 

flowerbug

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there is such variety in apples it is really tough to speak in generalities.

without a close look it is hard to say exactly what's going on.

maybe they've grown from rootstock and there's nothing left of the bearing variety that was grafted on top. or perhaps they weren't grafted trees at all and are cider apples or ...

did your dad get into heirloom apples and talk about brewing his own cider or was he pretty conventional? that might give you a clue as to whether or not he planted types that would have been common when those were planted (Red Delicious, Macs, ...).

at this point i kinda think it would be too early to recommend taking bits for grafting onto other rootstock, but if you do get blooms and apples that are tasty and useful then you could consider that.

just what comes to mind. :)
 

Xerocles

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there is such variety in apples it is really tough to speak in generalities.

without a close look it is hard to say exactly what's going on.

maybe they've grown from rootstock and there's nothing left of the bearing variety that was grafted on top. or perhaps they weren't grafted trees at all and are cider apples or ...

did your dad get into heirloom apples and talk about brewing his own cider or was he pretty conventional? that might give you a clue as to whether or not he planted types that would have been common when those were planted (Red Delicious, Macs, ...).

at this point i kinda think it would be too early to recommend taking bits for grafting onto other rootstock, but if you do get blooms and apples that are tasty and useful then you could consider that.

just what comes to mind. :)
My Dad was petty old school, modern for his time when it came to things like this. Heirloom apples? Making cider? I seriously doubt it. He probably went to the feed/hardware store and got what sounded yummy. He did make a little scuppernog wine occasionally, when he thought my Mom had cooled down enough from his last batch because he was making "liquor" in her house. (She was vehemently religious and anti-alcohol of any sort) :lol:
Oh, and the vineyard is sadly gone.about 25 vines of several varieties. :(
The base/trunks are still solid & "healthy?" Whether or not they are old rootstock or the original grafts is still to be determined. If they turn out to be usable apples, I will do whatever I can to rejuvenate them, but would probably never go so far as to try grafting them. Easier to just Start over. If they turn out to be common rootstock "cider" apples as you call them, they will probably just be cut down. No "happy childhood memories" trees. Just respect that they have survived years of neglect.
 

thistlebloom

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I think your plan of fertilizing and waiting to see how they do this year sounds good. You've already given them a boost by clearing all the competition away from them. Since there is not much sentimental value involved, if they aren't at least giving you some pretty blooms in the spring I can't see expending a lot of effort that direction. I do like that you respect the fact that they are 50ish and still surviving.
 

YourRabbitGirl

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Well. Define ancient. These were planted when I was a young teenager. I'm 67 now. I never heard anything about the trees or any apples they produced. I had forgotten about them. My dad passed over 20 years ago, so I know that no one has so much as looked at them since. They're in a heavily overgrown area on the hill beside my house. I rediscovered them during the winter. I seem to remember him planting 4. I found evidence of three, although one was only a rotten stump. The other two were in pitiful shape. Dormant of course when I rediscovered them. But no signs of life. Twigs and whole limbs rotten and brittle. Totally encased by Vines and brambles. Surrounded by other trees. 1 Oak 8 in in diameter so close to the trunk of the Apple that I had to chainsaw at an angle to drop it.
Anyway. Last week as I was taking a walk up the hillside, I was drawn to the apple trees. Lo and behold, I discovered some green buds. I spent the last two days clearing around the apple trees. So far I have cut 8 major trees within two feet of each tree. I have an 8ft tall pile of Vines and brambles that I have removed.
Now the trees are decidedly in poor condition. Lots and lots of dead wood. But each has several well spaced limbs with green leaf buds. The only thing I know to do now that I've given them air and sunlight is to perhaps spread some 10-10-10 around what should be the drip line. And wait and hope for the best until next fall / winter to try and prune out some of the Dead wood and shape them up a bit.
I have little hope of any fruit this year, if ever. I don't know if they ever produced. But I like the idea of giving them a new lease on life and an opportunity.
Any suggestions / advice are heartily sought.
The typical safe and well tended apple tree will live from 50 to 80 years of age. There are, however, striking exceptions to this statute. Some apple trees have been recorded to have existed for more than a century.
 
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