Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Maintenance for old fruit trees

Often we hear the comment, “I have an old pear tree and an apple tree, but neither seem to do any good.” Let’s compare a tree to ourselves. If we don’t take care of ourselves and never go outside if and when we can, we gradually accumulate all sorts of problems too. You may say, what has that got to do with my fruit trees? Surely they are outside all the time?

It’s all to do with light. It does us humans good to be in the sunshine, and the same applies to fruit trees, in the sense that they need good light throughout. If the trees have been left to themselves and have produced masses of shoots all round, virtually a solid mass of growth that creates darkness inside the canopy of the tree, then the leaves are no longer able to carry out the functions they were designed for. Photosynthesis goes into survival mode: the little energy that the shaded leaves manage to produce is used simply to keep the structure alive. There is no energy left to create productive fruiting wood as a replacement for older non-productive branches.

In this situation, the best way to attain a complete reversal is not by removing lots of little bits of wood, but by opening the tree right up by removing four or five large branches, so that the sunshine can penetrate into the centre of the tree. Seal the wounds with Arbrex, feed the tree with organic matter, water the tree in dry periods and you will be amazed at the results. Be patient and give the tree at least two years to mend its ways.

Read more about how to look after older trees.

Photo courtesy of Trey Pitsenberger/

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