Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Monthly Archives: August 2013

Video on the development of an apple tree

Dan Neuteboom from Suffolk Fruit and Trees illustrates the development of an apple tree, from its first year, right through until it has reached the age of 30 years. Dan provides some tips on what to watch out for – aphis, greenfly, deteriorating leaf colour – and how to correct the problems. He also describes the most important factor of all: ensuring that the tree is always in a pyramidal shape, so that light can penetrate into the centre of the tree, providing the energy necessary for growth and good fruit production. To attain trees of this quality and achieve rapid fruit production, it is important to purchase trees with a good structure: as supplied by RealEnglishFruit. Further information from
Click on the thumbnail below to watch the video:

Video: A wild flower meadow

In this video, Dan and Henrietta Neuteboom describe the benefits of a wild flower meadow for fruit trees or an orchard.  Wild flowers attract a large number of insects for many months of the year, above all bees, which ensure good pollination. And a wild flower meadow is very beautiful in itself. Click to watch.

Good pollination for many fruit crops is vital for regular cropping. The problem is that most fruit crops flower early in the growing season, when it still can be very cold and wet. These are not the climatic conditions favourable to many pollinating insects. For good cross pollination we therefore have to rely on insects such as the bumble bee, when the weather is too cold for the honey bee.

A bumble bee in a wild flower meadow

A bumble bee in a wild flower meadow

It is for this reason that creating areas of wild flowers is vital. Particular attention must be given to the choice of various flowering species. There has to be a regular food supply, in the form of flowering plants throughout the growing season. That means from March to some time in September. In our experience, a combination of annual single blooms and regularly flowering shrubs is the best way to provide adequate food for the pollinating insects. Another point is that it is better to have lots of flowers of a relatively small number species such as dog daisies, primroses, lavender and clover, rather than a more extensive range with just a few flowers on each shrub or annually flowering plants. However overall, the most important requirement is to provide enough flowers on plants and shrubs which are able to supply nectar and pollen during the full length of the growing season, so badly needed for the insects’ survival during the winter months.

Click here to read more about wild flower meadows and fruit growing.

Just testing something….

Ignore me!

Video: Summer pruning

The main objective of summer pruning is to ensure that the apples on a tree develop good colour and flavour. When summer pruning, cut out the vertical shoots in order to enable light to enter the tree and come into contact with fruit that was previously shaded. Work on the lower part of the tree first. In addition to the one-year old shoots, you will also find some shorter darts, which should be left, because they are essential for next year’s production. Don’t prune the higher part of the tree too much, because pruning here tends to stimulate further growth.

Video: Some fruit tree problems

Dan Neuteboom explains how to recognize and deal with some common problems with fruit trees in a garden.

Aphis or greenfly can be seen from the way that the leaves curl up. If there is not too much, you can leave it and let natural predators deal with the aphis; alternatively, if a lot of shoots are infected, you can cut it out with a pair of secateurs, ensuring that you remove the affected shoots from the garden via the non-recycling bin.

A young tree struggles if it is having to compete for water and nutrients with grass and weeds. A tree like this should be watered weekly, and the weeds around it removed, over an area of at least one metre diameter.

When a tree is short of moisture, its leaves hang down in a distinctive way. The solution is obvious: water the tree.

Rabbit damage causes leaves to yellow, and an examination of the base of the trunk shows where rabbits have nibbled the bark, interrupting the flow of nutrients in the cambium. If the damage is not all the way around, the tree will survive. Wrap cling film around the wounded part of the trunk, and the tree will heal itself in about 2 years.

What is fruit drop? Why has it been so intense this year?

Fruit drop is the process by means of which the tree decides how much energy it is going to dedicate to fruit and how much to growth. At the fruitlet stage, it eliminates a varying proportion of the fruitlets. We can then complete the process by manually thinning the groups of fruit so that the remaining fruitlets will be able to grow to a good size.
This year, the natural fruit drop was very intense: some growers were surprised to see a carpet of fruitlets on the ground under the trees. What was the reason for this?
This year, weather in the UK was very different to normal particularly in spring. Usually a tree starts growing at the end of May, but this year, the cold conditions and cold soil meant that the tree didn’t get the incentive to start growing until the second week of June. Then it realized (please forgive these verbs that seem to imply that trees have a human-like intelligence, but it’s easier to explain this way!) that it was late in its growing season (this information came from day length). So the tree started producing loads of new shoots.
New shoots need energy, just like the fruit which was also developing. This reduces the energy available for seed growth. When the seeds do not develop properly, the tree abandons the fruit around it, and it drops.
Different varieties have different thinning characteristics. James Grieve has a perfect, automatic thinning. No manual thinning is required. This year, Early Windsor ignored all the seasonal information as described above, and set a heavy crop.


Top ten fruit growing tips for August

1) Keep watering your fruit trees, particularly if they are carrying a crop .

2) Look at the trunk of the trees to ensure that the bark is not damaged by lawn mowers or strimmers.

3) Mice are increasing in numbers, particularly around fruit trees. Keep the area around the trunk, grass and weed-free, as this is the sort of shelter that mice like.

4) Fruits which will store, after harvesting, for a later date; raspberries, black currants, red currants, blue berries and gooseberries freeze beautifully, without loss of quality. Check to make sure you have enough space in your freezer.

5) Keep a diary of your growing experiences, particularly if something went wrong during the growing season.

6) All fruits are ripening off later this year, due to the cold slow start in March/April time. Do not pick too early, otherwise the fruit will shrivel and will lack flavour.

7) Carry out summer pruning where necessary. Plums, cherries, green gages, peaches, nectarines and apricots must not be pruned after the end of August in order to avoid infections of various tree diseases. Apples and pears can be pruned at any time during the winter months

8) August is an ideal month to improve drainage in areas where you intend to plant trees, and loosen the soil to a two-spade depth. This is particularly true if a hard layer of soil is found within the first 60 cm of the soil profile.

9) Let us know, as your tree supplier, if you intend to plant certain specific varieties of fruit. The more unusual varieties sell out quickly. We will have good quantities of standard varieties. However, we recommend contacting us right away in order to organize your new area of fruit trees. Click here for further information on our orchard packs.

10) Label your anti bird nets. This makes it is easier to use the right nets in the right place next season.