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Garrog

Apple Tree Infection Advice

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Garrog   

Hi all,

 

I would be really grateful if anyone would be willing to advise what to do with a mature apple tree in our garden. The main concern is a very recent bracket growth although on inspection there are also some other points of concern!

 

To give some background, we believe our garden was once part of an orchard, so the mature apple, plum and pear would be at least 70 years old. Since we moved in in 2005, the apple has fruited well but this year it is fruiting little. About 4 years ago it had a heavy prune mainly at the top - one of the pictures shows where a large limb was hacked off (not by me!), and also some fairly extensive ivy was removed - during this a few bark cuts were sustained (again, not me!).

 

Last year we noticed sawdust on a shrub below a limb which was sawed off and facing down. Finding holes about 3/8", from research I believe it is most likely a carpenter bee which I understand is harmless to the tree and beneficial to pollenation. Although I have never witnessed bees, the end continues to produce sawdust.

 

A few days ago I noticed the bracket, which continues to expand impressively. I'm 99% certain the mushroom is a 'hairy bracket', or fruiting body of Inonotus Hispidus; having done some research I understand that while the fungus attacks only the old heart wood this is terminal and - when in the trunk as here - eventually leads to a tree which cannot support itself due to hollowing out.

 

Finally, when taking the pictures I also noticed what appears to be a mature butt rot at the base and woodworm in one of the limbs. Most leaves look normal with just a few looking grey-brown toward the end (not pictured).

 

I attach some pictures of the bracket, the tree situation and nearest other apple tree, and shots of various points on the infected tree which I hope will be useful in assessing it. If you don't mind, these are the questions for which I think I'm seeking answers. Of course, please correct me if any of the above is wrong or I'm asking the wrong questions!

 

1. Given that the bracket is a spore machine, would I be better to pull it off so that a) it won't drip spores into the ground and back in, b) it won't blow over to other trees, and c) the mycelium won't be so encouraged to develop in the trunk to support the fruit; or would the scar potentially cause more distress/secondary infection?

2. Could it in future produce fruit at previous quantities, or is the yield certain to be in terminal decline?

3. If we were to keep the tree, how viable is propping and how urgent is the need?

4. Should we remove the woodworm-infested branch?

 

Pictures

  1. Close-up of the monster
  2. General Situation
  3. Trunk
  4. Trunk scar
  5. Limb scar
  6. Hacked Limb
  7. Bee work?
  8. Butt rot?
  9. Woodworm (bad picture but holes are throughout protruding soft wood)

 

If I can supply any more pictures please just ask!

 

Thanks so much for lending your advice. I have a feeling a local surgeon is about to get a call (I checked the directory already!)!

 

Garrog.

Woodworm.jpg.14d27bad7efd69df1b96b784cda82dbd.jpg

Buttrot.jpg.02fd5e87ad27b53a7708b13bf72ab024.jpg

59766155b5753_Largeholes.jpg.76476788f9b2ae9610b131bfb75e522e.jpg

Hack.jpg.ad5b8f75e1eff4fddc9f855e50ec3e90.jpg

59766155af603_Horizontalcanker.jpg.1165fbc65cb9ad4572c7296500f65d15.jpg

59766155aba88_Trunkcanker.jpg.5e114ed911c033f94b428bf47f7854df.jpg

Trunk.jpg.43feb584d8fd7a20a4989ae395ad443c.jpg

Situation.jpg.2a6c0c44c6f8390e163443f52b45dac7.jpg

Bracket.jpg.ba5ea42cc6093f7fd6a8e33ffb043b34.jpg

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a magnificent and impresive apple of veteran status, to be retained IMO.

 

Your butt fungi may be polyporus squamosus or arbortiporus biennis, as long as you keep the tree pruned as per normal there is no reason to panic prop it if it needs it, theyoften do at this veteran age!

 

lovely lovely old tree, and dont rip the brackets off it wont re infect itself, and there is much fauna hat lives on these brackets making them imortNT IN THEIR OWN RIGHT ECOLOGICALY.

 

SORRY FOR CAPS!

 

I would love this tree in my garden, oh and yes its hispidus

Edited by Tony Croft aka hamadryad

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Garrog   

Thanks so much for your help, hamydryad. Yeah we're quite attached to it so I was worried about it collapsing!

 

I stupidly forgot to include a photo of where the nearest other apple tree is - it's about 10 yds away. If we leave the bracket on (and I noticed last night it's quite popular with the many slugs we harbour!), will the young tree be at risk of infection?

 

I'm sure we'd rather keep the old tree even if it doesn't fruit, so I suppose yield was just a point of curiosity really. Good to know there isn't an immediate need to worry about trunk strength, that's something of a relief, but I assume it will slowly hollow out... I can see it ultimately giving way in a high wind, whenever in the future that might be - obviously we'd much prefer to prop it before that point if viable - what signs can we look for to know we're reaching that point, and could you guess if we're talking years or decades?

 

I guess there's nothing to be done about butt rott - and thanks for the ID - but what of the holes? Big holes = bee? I attach a better picture of the woodworm limb too - would it help if I paint up some pictures to show where it is on the tree?

 

Thanks! G.

Woodworm2.jpg.781eb8bb6b841e2856ed7772a790c278.jpg

Proximity.jpg.3d0e899dad3d81ba9093b84ef3ec3793.jpg

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dont pay too much attention to the insects, they are only having the old heartwoods and attract woodpeckers and blue tits, the latter will find a hollow apple a fine nesting site! they love apples for nesting. as for te props, hard to say without a better look,where are you?

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agg221   

As Hamadryad has said, this tree has good vigour and is in decent shape. Gnarly old apple trees like this are part of their charm - they're not a natural look and were never designed to be, it's a classic example of the impact of man's intervention and the fact that it still provides a habitat/productive/aesthetic benefit. 'Normal' pruning to keep it reasonably thinned, remove crossing/diseased branches etc would be all that's required and it should keep going for a long time yet - decades if not another century. If the hacked branch is dead though, I would take it off to where it joins the main bit - there will be a visible collar of live bark which you should aim to avoid cutting in to.

 

In my experience it's hard to specify how to know when a branch, or the trunk, is about to snap. The weak point can be very hard to predict, as when the inside is no longer structural the remaining bark and sapwood acts as a tube with holes in, which cause it to buckle under a particular loading. The only thing you can do if you think it's a bit thin in places is to keep weight and wind resistance off by shortening up branches to reduce leverage, and height to reduce wind resistance - the classic 'mushroom' shaped flat top apple tree with thin fruit-bearing branches being regularly renewed on a permanent scaffold of old branches is one approach. This is the basis of renewal pruning, which is favoured for retention of old orchard trees. The Ancient Tree Forum has some useful advice here:

 

http://frontpage.woodland-trust.org.uk/ancient-tree-forum/atfscapes/images/RestoringFruitTrees.pdf

 

Alec

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As Hamadryad has said, this tree has good vigour and is in decent shape. Gnarly old apple trees like this are part of their charm - they're not a natural look and were never designed to be, it's a classic example of the impact of man's intervention and the fact that it still provides a habitat/productive/aesthetic benefit. 'Normal' pruning to keep it reasonably thinned, remove crossing/diseased branches etc would be all that's required and it should keep going for a long time yet - decades if not another century. If the hacked branch is dead though, I would take it off to where it joins the main bit - there will be a visible collar of live bark which you should aim to avoid cutting in to.

 

In my experience it's hard to specify how to know when a branch, or the trunk, is about to snap. The weak point can be very hard to predict, as when the inside is no longer structural the remaining bark and sapwood acts as a tube with holes in, which cause it to buckle under a particular loading. The only thing you can do if you think it's a bit thin in places is to keep weight and wind resistance off by shortening up branches to reduce leverage, and height to reduce wind resistance - the classic 'mushroom' shaped flat top apple tree with thin fruit-bearing branches being regularly renewed on a permanent scaffold of old branches is one approach. This is the basis of renewal pruning, which is favoured for retention of old orchard trees. The Ancient Tree Forum has some useful advice here:

 

http://frontpage.woodland-trust.org.uk/ancient-tree-forum/atfscapes/images/RestoringFruitTrees.pdf

 

Alec

 

great post :thumbup1:

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Garrog   

Wow. Thank you Alec and hamadryad. And I thought it was a gonner!

 

I'm away for a couple of days but will read Alec's link properly asap. All your advice is much appreciated - I think the hacked branch is still ok but I'll have a closer look. Hamadryad, I'm in Aylesbury, Bucks. There's a company in Chesham - you think I should ask them to look at it?

 

Please don't be offended if I don't check this for a couple of days while I'm away! I appreciate your time & advice I'll check in soon to sees if there's more to be said. G

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Wow. Thank you Alec and hamadryad. And I thought it was a gonner!

 

I'm away for a couple of days but will read Alec's link properly asap. All your advice is much appreciated - I think the hacked branch is still ok but I'll have a closer look. Hamadryad, I'm in Aylesbury, Bucks. There's a company in Chesham - you think I should ask them to look at it?

 

Please don't be offended if I don't check this for a couple of days while I'm away! I appreciate your time & advice I'll check in soon to sees if there's more to be said. G

 

Is this my work buddy Dougey playing a wind up!:lol:

 

the firm in chesham may well be J and D clarks! thats us, and as your in Aylesbury I would be more than happy to come and give some free advice, wanted a photo of hispidus on apple myself for ages.

 

im off to romania for a week tommorow but would really like to photograph the hispidus when I get back if thats possible?:thumbup:

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Garrog   

Lol, no not Dougey, genuine! How funny it was your ad I found, hamadryad.

 

That would obviously be brilliant if it's worth your while, TC. I'll PM you my details. The specimen is blooming nicely, probably 8" or so across now and turning knurly.

 

Can I also say thanks to Alec for the link - some interesting stuff in there even if I didn't follow all the technical parts! Sound like there could be hope for reviving an old tree.

 

Cheers all!

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Arob   

The panel fence doesn't look too old and appears to be above a large concrete base - if this is relatively recent then trenching near the tree will have had an effect, similarly alkalis from the concrete are likely to have a negative impact.

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