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Snow crabapple tree

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From: Judi Weel
Chicago, IL
Hello, mine is a I think a complicated question, but two fold also. I think we have a 25 year old former non fruit bearing Snow crabapple tree that is suddenly bearing 3" sweet but green (with slight red patches) apples! Ill explain what has happened. 25 yrs ago we planted a Snow crabapple tree in our yard. It grew to 30 feet and bloomed beautiful white flowers year spring, never bearing any fruit. Ten years ago we noticed it developed a bad case of blight or something as the leaves got spotted and the tree lost most its leaves by mid summer. We tried to kill the fungus with a few products but it happened again the next year so that following fall he cut the tree to the stump with the intent of in during the following Spring he would dig it out (as he had severely injured his shoulder at work and couldn't do it then). It turned out he needed surgery on that shoulder that Spring, so the stump was left in. By the end of the summer we had a small bush that grew from behind the old stump (nothing grew back from the stump itself). The bush was left for that year (as was most heavy landscaping) since my husband was in physical therapy for months. The following Spring year (7 years ago) the bush was 15 ft tall and covered with white flowers again. We decided since it seemed to have resurrected itself we would rope the branches (like suckers) together to give it a more tree like appearance and see what happened. It grew again in an upward fashion to a heathy 30 feet (with white flowers in the early Spring) and healthy leaves. Now the amazing part...3 yrs ago it produced its normal show of white flowers but in the last week of June that year I noticed it was producing a slew of pink flowers that eventually grew groupings of green small balls of fruit. I can share we were shocked to see after 5 years of this bush-tree being a reg non fruit bearing tree, we now had fruit! What was more amazing is we ended up with hundreds of 3" sweet tasting green apples by the fall! The next summer the same thing happened, producing even more fruit but we noticed the fruit and the leaves were falling off the tree early again with spots. Last Spring we before the flowers bloomed last year we sprayed the tree for blight with Captan. It seemed to help a lot with the loss of leaves (but we still had spots and some early loss of them), yet we had very, very minimal fruit last season (like 25 apples in total)! questions are this; have you every heard of this happening with a Snow Crabapple tree/root system? And did we damage the fruit production last year with the Captan application? We are wondering what we should do to help heal the tree of what I think is leaf blight or Juniper Apple Rust? Thanks for any insight and advice.

Extension Message
From: Brenda Dahlfors
Program Coordinator, Horticulture
Lake/McHenry Unit
Judi - I've been looking, but can't confirm, that 'Spring Snow' is a grafted tree. That would mean that what you actually have growing is the root stock, which would be a completely different variety than what you cut down. I did find however, that 'Spring Snow' is severely susceptible to scab - which is exactly what you describe happening to it. Control requires repeated spraying with a fungicide, starting very soon. Here is more info on scab: As for the smaller number of fruit last year, many blossoms were damaged by late frost - I don't think the Captan had anything to do with it. Good luck with your mystery apples this year!

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