Mature Apple tree health question


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Hi everyone,

I have just bought my first apple tree. We have chosen an adult elstar (10 years old). The tree was planted in our garden by the company where we bought it. After they left i inspected the tree and saw few things that concerned me. The company indicated that I don't have to worry about this. I want to double-check it, but I can't find out for myself.

Maybe one of you can help me. It's about two things:

- A piece of string has grown into a branch of the tree, and I can't get it out (see photo). The company told me to cut away the ends and that it doesn't matter for the health of the tree. What do you think?

- Two branches (one main branch) have deep grooves. I did a scratch test and the wood under the bark is green. Is this apple canker or something else? Will it heal on its own or do i need to do something?

I am really a beginner and would like to learn more. I hope I can learn something from you!

Thanks!
 

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Firstly, welcome to the forum @Applelover :)

Zigs and I have just had a chat about your tree, and we definitely think you should insist that these people should come and remove the tree and refund your money. Although the tree will probably survive the ill treatment it has suffered, they have no business selling you a tree that has been so damaged. It also looks as if this has been planted with the pot still on it, so how will the roots grow????
This is not a good advertisement for a decent nursery, and you would be within your rights to leave a very negative review in our opinion.

At this time of year you should be able to source a decent apple tree online - bare rooted, and plant it with a supporting stake during this time when the trees are dormant.

We would be very interested to hear how this goes, and wish you luck with it.
 
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Hi everyone,

I have just bought my first apple tree. We have chosen an adult elstar (10 years old). The tree was planted in our garden by the company where we bought it. After they left i inspected the tree and saw few things that concerned me. The company indicated that I don't have to worry about this. I want to double-check it, but I can't find out for myself.

Maybe one of you can help me. It's about two things:

- A piece of string has grown into a branch of the tree, and I can't get it out (see photo). The company told me to cut away the ends and that it doesn't matter for the health of the tree. What do you think?

- Two branches (one main branch) have deep grooves. I did a scratch test and the wood under the bark is green. Is this apple canker or something else? Will it heal on its own or do i need to do something?

I am really a beginner and would like to learn more. I hope I can learn something from you!

Thanks!
The string will not affect the tree. Many many times here in Texas a living tree is used as a fence post and the tree just grows around the wire with never a problem. The limb with the split MIGHT grow over the wound but it will always be a weak spot and until it heals over it will be a haven for insects and bacteria. I would cut it off. Also, any limbs that are growing at or below 90 degrees should be removed as these limbs will be prone to breakage under a load. I couldn't see the base of the tree to see if it were planted too deep. The root flare must be exposed. A ten year tree will have a robust root system and if it were in a smaller container would have been root bound and probably had encircling roots. The root ball should have been cut to ensure proper growth. And just because the people you bought the tree from planted it doesn't necessarily mean it was correctly planted. Keep a VERY close watch on the tree this coming spring and hope that the tree is guaranteed. This is an extremely poor specimen. If you can I would get a refund.
 
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I couldn't see the base of the tree to see if it were planted too deep.
Chuck, if you click on the last picture and the + to enlarge you can drag it up and see it looks as if it has been planted in the pot!!
 
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Chuck, if you click on the last picture and the + to enlarge you can drag it up and see it looks as if it has been planted in the pot!!
I missed that. I was too concerned about all of the twists and turns in the trunk. Maybe at least they cut the bottom out of the container. It is a shame. At least it will be fairly easy to replant.
 
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Firstly, welcome to the forum @Applelover :)

Zigs and I have just had a chat about your tree, and we definitely think you should insist that these people should come and remove the tree and refund your money. Although the tree will probably survive the ill treatment it has suffered, they have no business selling you a tree that has been so damaged. It also looks as if this has been planted with the pot still on it, so how will the roots grow????
This is not a good advertisement for a decent nursery, and you would be within your rights to leave a very negative review in our opinion.

At this time of year you should be able to source a decent apple tree online - bare rooted, and plant it with a supporting stake during this time when the trees are dormant.

We would be very interested to hear how this goes, and wish you luck with it.
Hi Tetters,

Thank you for your reply! I feel very dumb right now. We picked the tree ourselves in the show garden of the company. The tree is not planted in the pot, but in a special bag, so you can easily water it. That's why the pipes around the trunk, you can connect them to a water hose. I assume that the roots do not suffer from this and can attach themselves to the soil. I'm going to check this out just to be sure.

I find it difficult to demand the removal of the tree, as we have chosen it ourselves and missed the bad spots. I would prefer to save the tree. What would you advise if we wanted to continue with this tree?

Thanks!!
 
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Chuck, if you click on the last picture and the + to enlarge you can drag it up and see it looks as if it has been planted in the pot!!
I think that is the special watering system, not a pot. It looks like a pot because of the ring around it :).
 
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The string will not affect the tree. Many many times here in Texas a living tree is used as a fence post and the tree just grows around the wire with never a problem. The limb with the split MIGHT grow over the wound but it will always be a weak spot and until it heals over it will be a haven for insects and bacteria. I would cut it off. Also, any limbs that are growing at or below 90 degrees should be removed as these limbs will be prone to breakage under a load. I couldn't see the base of the tree to see if it were planted too deep. The root flare must be exposed. A ten year tree will have a robust root system and if it were in a smaller container would have been root bound and probably had encircling roots. The root ball should have been cut to ensure proper growth. And just because the people you bought the tree from planted it doesn't necessarily mean it was correctly planted. Keep a VERY close watch on the tree this coming spring and hope that the tree is guaranteed. This is an extremely poor specimen. If you can I would get a refund.
Hi Chuck,

Thanks for the response and advice! Glad to hear that the wire wont be a problem. I agree with you on the wounded branch. However it is one of the main branches, so I hesitate to cut him off. Is it possible to wait until spring to make a decision? Or is the chance of disease and spread too great?

Good observation on the roots, unfortunately i did not see the roots in detail. All i know is that it was a compact lump when they planted it. As described in another reply there is a special bag placed (linen i think) around the roots, with a watering system that can be attached to a water hose. This system slowly releases water according to the guy who planted it.

Very sad to hear that i picked a bad tree. It is our first tree, so there is still a lot to learn in that respect. A lot of things don't go right all at once. I also hesitate to make a call and ask to remove the tree, because i chose this tree myself.

What will be the next steps for me if i decide to keep the tree? I will be back on our property this weekend and will make some new pictures of the trunk.

I want to thank you for the advice! I should have consulted the forum before buying the tree :(.
 
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If you decide not to take Chuck`s advice and cut off the damaged limb, we would suggest painting the wound with cow dung and clay and wrapping it with a bandage that will decompose. Alternatively use sulphur dust.
I can now see more clearly that you have a piece of seep hose around the root.

We have just planted an avenue of small leafed lime trees - 30 of them. We bought the whips from the woodland trust, and the advice on watering was to initially water in well, and then NOT to water any more unless the weather became EXCEPTIONALLY dry, as the roots will come to the surface instead of going down to find water on their own. I think this would apply to any tree!
 
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If you decide not to take Chuck`s advice and cut off the damaged limb, we would suggest painting the wound with cow dung and clay and wrapping it with a bandage that will decompose. Alternatively use sulphur dust.
I can now see more clearly that you have a piece of seep hose around the root.

We have just planted an avenue of small leafed lime trees - 30 of them. We bought the whips from the woodland trust, and the advice on watering was to initially water in well, and then NOT to water any more unless the weather became EXCEPTIONALLY dry, as the roots will come to the surface instead of going down to find water on their own. I think this would apply to any tree!

Thanks for the advice :)! I will get on that this weekend and try to heal the limb that way. Do i need to cut away some of the wound before applying the wound healer?

I also found out that the roots are wrapped in burlap. I think this should decompose naturally so that the roots can settle in nicely.

I appreciate the advice a lot. Here in the Netherlands there is not really a source of information on fruit tree related problems :)
 
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If you are not going to remove the limb altogether, it would be best to leave it as it is and apply whatever you decide to use as is.

The burlap is a debateable subject, and many tree growers disagree that it is useful. I hold this view, and would take the stuff away from trees I plant, as it is known that this stuff can take years to disintegrate. There are many small plants these days which are sold with little ''sacks'' around their roots - whenever they are potted up the roots remain restricted and don`t allow them to grow - usually resulting in the plant dying. We ALWAYS remove these whenever we see them.
 
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I will do that thanks! Interesting i read some different opinions about it too. I wil remove some of the dirt to check out what kind of material it is and if it is to sturdy i will remove it.

I am trying to learn as much as i can to prevent problems later on. Do you have any idea what can cause such damage to a limb? Also do you have any advice on the pruning of this tree. The research i did online suggested that the limbs should have more on a upward angle. On this tree the main limbs are more vertical, can this cause problems?

Again many thanks!
 
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@Chuck,

On this picture you can see the trunk more clearly
If this is a grafted tree it is planted much to deep. It appears to be planted at the graft. Your tree is called a ball and burlap tree here in the US. The ball means root ball and burlap the bag it was wrapped in. The object of the burlap bag is to keep the roots moist while storing and shipping. It is ALWAYS removed. My advice is to dig up the tree and remove the bag. Then replant it at the proper depth. The injured limb should be removed now during dormancy not in the spring when the sap is beginning to flow.

I have a few questions. When you bought the tree was it planted in the ground or in a container. When the tree arrived at your house the roots were in a burlap bag. How big was the ball of roots and how tall is the tree. How thick is the trunk above that rounded shape I presume is the graft?
 
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If this is a grafted tree it is planted much to deep. It appears to be planted at the graft. Your tree is called a ball and burlap tree here in the US. The ball means root ball and burlap the bag it was wrapped in. The object of the burlap bag is to keep the roots moist while storing and shipping. It is ALWAYS removed. My advice is to dig up the tree and remove the bag. Then replant it at the proper depth. The injured limb should be removed now during dormancy not in the spring when the sap is beginning to flow.

I have a few questions. When you bought the tree was it planted in the ground or in a container. When the tree arrived at your house the roots were in a burlap bag. How big was the ball of roots and how tall is the tree. How thick is the trunk above that rounded shape I presume is the graft?
Thanks for your help Chuck. Do you think there is no chance of healing the injured limb, when applying special tree wound heal product? It means i need to remove this limb (see picture


I attached a picture of the tree placed in the show garden of the company (early november). As you can see the tree is placed a bit above ground in a special bag it seems. The ball of roots is approx the same size as the one in the picture. The outerbag was removed but a thin piece of burlap remained. I am not sure if it is a grafted tree. I will dig up the tree next Saturday and make another picture of it. If it is grafted how deep should it be planted?
 

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The only thing I can add here is - listen to Chuck!! He has advised you so wisely.

I would also add this... if you decide to grow any other trees or shrubs it is always an advantage if you choose much younger specimens.
Plant them in the winter when they are dormant - bare rooted. You can prune them then and shape them the way you want to, and they will establish much more easily. I think younger trees would be comparatively cheaper to buy as well.
 
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Thanks for your help Chuck. Do you think there is no chance of healing the injured limb, when applying special tree wound heal product? It means i need to remove this limb (see picture


I attached a picture of the tree placed in the show garden of the company (early november). As you can see the tree is placed a bit above ground in a special bag it seems. The ball of roots is approx the same size as the one in the picture. The outerbag was removed but a thin piece of burlap remained. I am not sure if it is a grafted tree. I will dig up the tree next Saturday and make another picture of it. If it is grafted how deep should it be planted?
There is a slim chance it will heal and scab over. I have never seen a tree bagged in this manner nor have I seen a bag of this material. A tree naturally grows its root outward and downward and a 10 year old tree would have roots extending at least to the drip line, probably a bit further. This means that either all of the feeder root extending to the drip line were cut OR all of the roots are contained in that small volume of that bag. From the pictures it appears that all of the roots are contained in that fabric but I don't see how a tree could survive 10 years with all of the roots contained in that small of a volume. Did you happen to see how the tree was removed from the ground? So, I have to presume that a tree digging machine was used and, if so, all of the feeder roots and secondary roots were cut leaving a volume of soil and roots equal to that bag shown in the picture. It was then lifted out of the ground and bagged in whatever that white fabric is. In any case it should be removed from that bag and from any other material that may be holding the roots together. It will be a lot of labor digging away the soil all of the way around the tree but this is the only way I know of to get the tree into its forever home. You must dig enough of the soil to be able to remove all of the fabric, even the fabric on the bottom. And while you are doing all of this digging raise the level of the tree to account for any adjustments of being planted too deep. Google root flare and also google tree grafting to get a much better understanding than what I can give you.
 
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There is a slim chance it will heal and scab over. I have never seen a tree bagged in this manner nor have I seen a bag of this material. A tree naturally grows its root outward and downward and a 10 year old tree would have roots extending at least to the drip line, probably a bit further. This means that either all of the feeder root extending to the drip line were cut OR all of the roots are contained in that small volume of that bag. From the pictures it appears that all of the roots are contained in that fabric but I don't see how a tree could survive 10 years with all of the roots contained in that small of a volume. Did you happen to see how the tree was removed from the ground? So, I have to presume that a tree digging machine was used and, if so, all of the feeder roots and secondary roots were cut leaving a volume of soil and roots equal to that bag shown in the picture. It was then lifted out of the ground and bagged in whatever that white fabric is. In any case it should be removed from that bag and from any other material that may be holding the roots together. It will be a lot of labor digging away the soil all of the way around the tree but this is the only way I know of to get the tree into its forever home. You must dig enough of the soil to be able to remove all of the fabric, even the fabric on the bottom. And while you are doing all of this digging raise the level of the tree to account for any adjustments of being planted too deep. Google root flare and also google tree grafting to get a much better understanding than what I can give you.
From what i understand the business i bought it from goes to growers each year and digs trees out it want to resell. I know they use a special excavator for this, but i do not know the exact method. I assume that this goes in a responsible way, since they sell a lot of trees also larger ones.

I am going to call them tomorrow to say that I am very disappointed in the quality of the tree. I bought the tree with warranty, so they have to do something with my complaints. During the call i will also ask how the tree is planted exactly and what the reasoning is behind planting the tree with the burlap still around it.

Thanks for all the help. I learned a lot from this experience and know what to look for when buying trees in te future. I will let you know how this story ends haha. Otherwise i will do my best to try and help heal and grow the tree with the advice from you and tetters.
 
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I`m sure we all look forward to hearing from you some more after you have spoken with them, and we also hope you will stay with us (y)
 
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