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Don Kinzler, Published August 23 2013

Fielding Questions

Q. We have two apples trees (planted seven and three years ago) that seem healthy but have never blossomed. We received a variety of advice from purchasing a flowering crab tree (which we did and it didn’t help) to beating the trees with a chair (we didn’t do) and cutting into the bark (also didn’t do). I’d love your insight as we look forward to someday having a bountiful crop of apples!

– LeAnn Mouw, Detroit Lakes, Minn.

A .Ouch! Your apple trees and I both thank you for using your instincts and avoiding the chair treatment. The age at which apple trees begin to blossom and bear fruit depends on the kind of apple. Some varieties begin at three to five years. Others begin at seven to nine years. Depending on which kinds you have, yours may be just on the verge.

To get a decent fruit “set” once the trees reach blossoming age, two different varieties are needed for cross pollination by insects. Flowering crabs will work, hence the advice given you. But your trees are perhaps two different varieties already. A different variety or flowering crab needn’t be in the same yard. At blossoming time, bees will travel distances of at least a half mile, so neighboring trees will work as pollinators.

Remember to avoid application of high nitrogen lawn fertilizer in proximity to fruit trees, which can result in more leafy growth and delayed fruiting.

Let me know next spring if they begin blossoming.

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Q .The leaves of our oak tree on the shores of the lake have many little orange growths the size of a pencil point. Can you tell me what is wrong?

– Patty Evans, Big Floyd Lake, Minn.

A .Growths and bumps on leaves are usually caused by either gall-forming insects and mites or by fungi such as rust.

They tend to be worse certain years dependent upon weather, moisture, and natural cycles.

Although they aren’t pretty, they don’t really hurt older, established trees that much, and there really isn’t a practical control other than raking up the leaves this fall to possibly dispose of over-wintering insects or diseases.

If you have a gardening question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city, and state for appropriate advice.