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Help me save my Semi-Dwarf Fuji Apple?

Posted by Vince_Maskeeper none (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 17, 14 at 16:54

[apologies in advance if this isn't the best forum for this, there seems to be a great number of topics here with extensive overlap. If this belongs elsewhere please let e know?]

Location: Los Angeles (North Hollywood), CA
USDA Zone :10a/10b
Soil: Sandy, Neutral - Moderately Alkaline

I planted a Fuji apple a few months back. I followed the directions on the tag, dug out a large hole and mixed native soil with bagged organic soil (along with some of my own homemade compost).

I placed a brick ring around the trunk (about 4 feet in diameter) and placed wood mulch over the fresh dirt (with none touching the tree trunk).

Over the first month or two I watered it regularly, a couple times a week (Calif is in drought conditions with zero rainfall for months).

It has recently begun to shrivel and the laves are turning red/brown:

I'm wondering what is causing this?

A couple of additional details:

- A few weeks back we did have some days with highs into the mid-90's. It's been cooler lately (80's) but there were a few days approaching triple digits.

Most sites I can find list Fuji apples as 4-9 zones- is 10a/b just too much for this guy?

- I bought a moisture gauge and have been taking daily moisture readings in the soil around each of my fruit trees (both at the trunk and about 2 feet away, at 2 inches deep and 8 inches deep). It seems like the Fuji is not draining as well as the other trees and stays very moist (5+ on the meter) for days and weeks after being watered.

Not sure if I can dig him up and do something to help (maybe put in a gravel bed before replanting?) or if he should be ok in moderately moist soil.

Any tips on what might be causing the leaf turn I posted in the photos would be greatly appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Help me save my Semi-Dwarf Fuji Apple?

Leaf shows water stress, as in not enough getting to the top.
Determining just what is doing that is waht you need to figure out.

If still hot, temporary shade might help.
Using your handy ever-present moisture meter -- a finger -- inserted into the soil and rootball is much more reliable than a meter device.
If planted from a container, make certain the rootball is moist because that's what dries out first.

Oh yes: a tip for next time you plant --
Don't mix organic matter into the planting hole. Either amend the entire area or use it as a mulch.

RE: Help me save my Semi-Dwarf Fuji Apple?

Also check for borer damage around the graft union; as Jean said, something is keeping water from getting to the leaves. Fuji tolerates 110F+ with ease, so something is wrong.

RE: Help me save my Semi-Dwarf Fuji Apple?

  • Posted by Skie_M Zone 7 (Southwestern (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 1:28

Try one of those 6' wide Bistro umbrellas mounted overtop your tree to protect it from the sun during the middle of the day .... in the mornings and evenings, the sun should still reach the tree.

This may help with the lack of moisture getting to the leaves, as I think it may be that the tree is overheating and the sun is evaporating the water in the leaves faster than the roots can pull it out of the ground.

Unfortunately, if this fixes your problem, it's just a temporary fix ... Your tree will be getting bigger. How tall will the tree be when it reaches maturity?

RE: Help me save my Semi-Dwarf Fuji Apple?

Looks like drowning injury to me- symptoms can be quite similar to too little water. Your area is not too hot for Fuji, the issue is more about are winters cold enough (to create full dormancy) so I think you can ignore the advice about providing shade. It often gets over 100 in the Sacramento Valley where I've seen commercial Fuji orchards.

I think you answered your own question when you mentioned drainage issues. If the majority of leaf area is injured you can expect the same is true of the functioning root system, so recovery will be very slow, at best, if this is the actual problem.

RE: Help me save my Semi-Dwarf Fuji Apple?

I was thinking the same as harvestman. I've been through it. Good chance the bagged soil is soaked up like a sponge. I don't like adding outside soil when planting a tree. If you want to mix in a little of your own composts, fine. But keep the percentage low. You can add your compost all you want in future years, spread it on top of the ground and let water take the nutrients down.

It will be hard to fix this if it is the case. The surrounding ground is going to be slow to wick it away. Shade it and remove mulch is the best chance.

On the subject of mixing fancy dirt with your home soil: your trees roots are going to reach beyond that hole pretty fast and the % of root contacting the fancy soil gets pretty small, therefor no advantage in the big picture. Disadvantage is this soft spot that fills with water when it rains and wants to sit there water logged, much like a pot above ground.

RE: Help me save my Semi-Dwarf Fuji Apple?

When you say you dug a big hole did you dig it deep or wide? If you dug it deep and put the root ball on top of loose soil it will settle and your tree will end up to deep.

A rule of thumb for me when I was by Sacramento was a 1 gallon pot root ball got planted 1-2" high. A 5 gallon root ball got planted 2-4" high. A 15 gallon root ball got planted 4-6" high. This seemed to accomodate the settling issue and the tree ended up at or above the exiting soil level.

Check your soil level on the tree and if it's too deep, lift it out of it's hole and add soil to bring it to a good level. The roots will not have grown much so it should be easy for you to do over.

Once a week should be sufficient water for now. It looks like over watering from your picture. Either from to frequent watering or from water standing in the hole from it being to deep.

You don't need to worry about the heat. The Central Valley near Sac got at least 10-15 days of summer heat. My Fuji's did just fine there in full sun.

RE: Help me save my Semi-Dwarf Fuji Apple?

Also you might take a look at the "lay of the land" around this tree. Is it in a spot where other water may be filtering down to it (at the bottom of a hill, or in a bowl). That too could be contributing to an over watering problem.

Other considerations are the type of soil which surrounds the hole you dug. If it is mostly clay, you may have created a large pot which the water can't get out of.

RE: Help me save my Semi-Dwarf Fuji Apple?

On the other hand, if after complete watering the soil remains soppy for more than a day, the problem is almost certainly drainage. overly deep planting can take quite a while to create issues and the graft union is a pretty good marker to see where this issue stands.

I've never seen an apple tree killed by planting it too deep and I've seen thousands of em that I didn't plant.

RE: Help me save my Semi-Dwarf Fuji Apple?

Putting compost in the planting hole was a mistake because it's causing the water to not drain. Hence the roots are drowning as Hman posted. At this time, it's too late to try to undo the damage by replanting the tree.
You'll probably have to replace the tree. Next time look at some videos on planting apple trees.

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