A reader writes:
I have a Newton Wonder apple tree in my back garden. It is over 60 years old and about 20 feet high.
When we moved in, in 2006, the tree seemed pretty healthy and fruited well.
Over the last two years it has started shedding leaves in May. It flowered but does not appear to have set any fruit.
What action can I take to improve the situation? Photos enclosed.
The overriding factor causing your tree to get totally out of balance is starvation – not in terms of nutrients, but light! The tree is clogged up with negative wood that prevents the entry of light into the canopy. The shade caused by this wood prevents the leaves from performing their fundamental function of photosynthesis, which is what generates the energy necessary for the tree to support itself. You can get an idea of how to open up the canopy by means of pruning in these videos:
How to prune an old apple tree – a 50-year old Bramley
How to prune an apple tree – video tutorial on a 10-year-old tree
Winter pruning on apples