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How to Grow: Wild Fruit Trees
Learn how to care for your wild fruit trees to produce more fruit.
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Maybe it’s because of all the rain earlier this summer or maybe it’s an “on” year, but I’ve been noticing a bummer crop of wild apples and pears. Often untended wild trees will alternate their bearing years. Producing lots of fruit one year, and few the next. This fruit quality can be marginal at best, to actually pretty good depending on the weather, insects and diseases and the variety. While harvesting from wild trees can be rewarding, you might want to try to bring a wild tree on your land back into cultivation.
It’s possible, but you can to take an honest look at the tree first. Does it have unique tasting and sized fruits? Is the tree in relatively good health? Is it located in a sunny spot? And most importantly, are you up for the challenge?
The first step is to prune out any dead, diseased and broken branches. Then the real work begins this winter. Remove large limbs crowding the center of the tree or with narrow crotch angles. On an apple tree, open up the center of the tree for light to penetrate the interior. Pears will need less pruning, as they tend not to become a tangled mess as easily. Don’t prune out more than 1/3rd of the tree in any one year or you can shock it and cause it to die. Remove suckers and water sprouts. After 2 to 3 years of pruning you should be able to bring back the tree into better production. But you’re not done. Adjust the soil pH and fertilize each spring, and spray with dormant oil in late winter to control some pests.