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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - June 02, 2011

From: Utica, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Insect pest on non-native dwarf apply tree in Utica MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a dwarf apple tree that bears 5-6 different kinds of apples. I am having trouble with insects; what is a good choice for this and feeding it? Is there also a organic choice?

ANSWER:

Okay, Mr. Smarty Plants is stumped again. We have no idea what species of apple tree would bear 5 or 6 different kinds of apples. We know that dwarf apple trees are grafted onto root stock of other species of apple tree, and we know that some grafted plants revert to the root stock fruit. So, we are just going to ignore the whole thing.

Apple trees, in spite of the legend of Johnny Appleeed, do not spring up voluntarily all over North America. There are members of the Malus, apple, genus that are native to some parts of North America, all with the common name crabapple. These are relatively short trees, mostly from 12' to 36' tall, but they certainly don't qualify as dwarves. Two of these, Malus coronaria (American crab) and Malus ioensis (Prairie crabapple), grow natively in Michigan. All members of the Malus genus are part of the Rosacaeae family.

As for the rest of the apples around, they are all referred to as Malus domestica. From fruit-crops.com/apple we found this paragraph on the origin and history of this apple:


"ORIGIN, HISTORY OF CULTIVATION
 The center of diversity of the genus Malus is the eastern Turkey, southwestern Russia region of Asia Minor. Apples were probably improved through selection over a period of thousands of years by early farmers. Alexander the Great is credited with finding dwarfed apples in Asia Minor in 300 BC; those he brought back to Greece may well have been the progenitors of dwarfing rootstocks. Apples were brought to North America with colonists in the 1600's, and the first apple orchard on this continent was said to be near Boston in 1625. From New England origins, apples moved west with pioneers, John Chapman (alias Johnny Appleseed) and missionaries during the 1700's and 1800's. In the 1900s, irrigation projects in Washington state began and allowed the development of the multi-billion dollar fruit industry, of which the apple is the leading species."

So, we are not going to find any of those in our Native Plant Database, but we will see if we can find some information on pest control and fertilizer. We found this article from West Virginia University on Disease Management for Organic Apple Production in Ohio. And from Ohio State University Growing Apples in the Home Orchard has information not only on controlling pests and diseases but on fertilizer amounts.

 

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