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I recently bought a home that has an apple tree in the backyard. I don't know much about apples (or gardening in general for that matter) and I need help with a couple of things.

  1. I'd like some help identifying the type of apple if possible (see pictures below; click to enlarge).
  2. About half of the apples are rotting out while still on the branches. Is this some type of infestation? There are plenty of other apples that show no brown spots - will those be OK for consumption?

I live in south-east Wyoming at 7200 feet in altitude - it's a rather cool and dry climate here. We have already had several nights this month that have gotten down to the high 30s.

Here are some photos of both intact and dissected apples. One taken from tree and two taken from ground. I'm not seeing any evidence that suggests the presence of any pests (at least to my untrained eye).

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For apple identification take a look here on SE: How can I identify an apple variety? -- be sure to read all the comments. –  Mike Perry Sep 17 '11 at 16:32
    
Take a close look at the dropped apples & the affected ones on the tree (dissect them) & see if there's a grub or larvae (or evidence of one having been there) feeding within. Please report back with your findings... –  Mike Perry Sep 17 '11 at 16:51
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Mike, thanks for the comments - never knew there were so many Apples! I'll take some time and digest that information. In the meantime I updated my question with your request. –  brady Sep 17 '11 at 17:09
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It looks like bird damage. –  jmusser Sep 18 '11 at 1:08
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@brady As "jmusser" says above, it could be bird damage, personally I think it's some kind of insect "wasp" damage (I don't think it's a fungal disease). I would pick up all the fallen apples & remove all the damaged apples on the tree, dispose of them (not via your compost pile just in case the problem is disease related). Then if the unaffected apples are ready for harvest I would go ahead & harvest them... Please let me know if this should be posted as an answer... –  Mike Perry Sep 18 '11 at 4:47
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2 Answers

For #1, Its not really possible to determine the variety exactly without genetic analysis. However, you can tell if it is a real variety or a seedling by looking for a graft line near the bottom of the trunk. This article shows you how to identify the graft lines but it is applicable for smaller trees. For larger trees finding a graft line will be more difficult. If there is no graft line, it is a seedling.

For #2, the damage definitely looks like bird damage that has rotted.

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Are your apples particularly soft/mushy at all or are they pretty firm? A soft fruit can be pierced easily by wasp mandibles, but a harder apple should have good protection against wasps. If your apples are being pecked open first by birds (suggested in comments) and then more damage is being done by wasps, you might want to take a different approach than just treating wasps.

For wasps there are several solutions depending on how much effort you want to take to save your apples. An easy one is, remove rotting apples as soon as possible. Rotting fruit gives of odors that attracts more wasps (and birds as well). I have heard hanging a fake wasp nest is an easy way of deterring wasp, although I can't say I've ever tried it. Lastly, you can spray your tree with an insecticide or put up wasp traps. Personally I would avoid killing the wasps since they help in pollination, especially if you have flowers and other trees around.

For birds there are a few solutions. A fake owl is a natural deterrent of small birds. I have heard that the owl must be moved ever so often or the birds will quickly wise up. Netting is a good way to go if you are serious about saving your apples on your tree.

Lastly, if you have any neighbors nearby that have apple trees in their I would try to start up a conversation and ask them if they have had to deal with rotten apples. Maybe someone has done the hard investigative work for you :)

Good luck!

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