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We have an apple tree in our garden, and for the last 5 years it has been producing lots of nice apples.

This year we redid the garden, but left the tree standing where it was.

But now the tree has started to have discolored leaves and dropping them. This doesnt look healthy.

What's my plan of attack?

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Updated: here is a partial leaf:

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    Have you had a cool, wet spring this year?
    – Jurp
    Jun 18, 2021 at 12:30
  • @Jurp unusually cool indeed (regular wetness). And a quite sudden switch to quite warm. Jun 18, 2021 at 15:53

2 Answers 2

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The issue looks to me like the fungal disease apple scab. Your confirmation that the weather has been wet and cool helps to confirm it, and the tree's position in the corner of a tall fence helps to exacerbate the problem due to much-reduced airflow in and around the tree. The tree could also use a good pruning in its interior to improve airflow by opening its center to the prevailing winds.

The link I've included (even though it's for the US state of Minnesota) gives you more information about the fungus, cultural practices to help reduce the recurrence of the fungus next year, and fungicides that you can use to prevent the fungus in future years. I'm not sure if any of the fungicides listed are available or desirable in the EU, so I've included EU-specific information below.

Here are two more European links:

  • UK (discussion of apple scab)
  • Danish (alternative fungicides)
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  • Thanks, looking at the picture of the leaves on that site, it looks a bit different? I've attached some more leaf pictures where it's only partially yet. I agree, some heavy pruning is needed to give the tree some more air. Jun 18, 2021 at 19:26
  • The green leaves on your tree are more typical of the disease, although as noted on one of the sites that when a leaf gets heavily lesioned it turns yellow and falls off. Your tree has a bad infestation.
    – Jurp
    Jun 19, 2021 at 2:20
  • you are right :'( Jun 20, 2021 at 19:10
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Right in the corner of the yard is a nice location for annuals or perennial plants, but not a great location for a tree. Try to imagine the tree in 10 years time, it will want to spread out and will overhang quite a bit the other side of the fence. Roots will spread in a circle, running under the fence to who knows what on the other side. We can see for example some construction in one neighbouring property. Have you investigated what the tubular chimney like things are attached to, and what might be entering the ground as a result? What might neighbours do on their property that might involve cutting back the roots of your tree?

The yellowing in one sense is natural - the tree is removing nutrient from those leaves to feed new growth and likely those yellow leaves will fall naturally and if the tree can find enough nutrient from the roots then it is not a big problem. However the tree can only rely on one quadrant of four directions to spread, so it will inevitably run into problems at some point.

The tree is still young and might be moved with care to a better location. Have you considered moving it to the middle of your yard where it would have room to grow and be productive? This might conflict with other uses, but at some point in the future you might revisit this idea when the tree is much larger and more of a problem to handle.

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  • This is a variant of an apple tree that keeps small (I think they are called low-stem?). It's 8 year old now. Has been in this spot for 3 years. This is the first time it happened. Are you sure it's not a soil problem? Jun 18, 2021 at 11:29
  • (ow and i forgot the fence doesn't protrude in the ground except for the black stakes, so it should have the freedom to grow in all directions) Jun 18, 2021 at 11:37

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