Fruit trees and small fruits

Answers to Your Questions: Tough Apples

Question

About ten years ago, we bought a dwarf apple tree (cultivar ‘Yellow Transparent’). Every May, we apply dormant oil. And yet it remains a tour de force to be able to eat apples. Most of them are bitten or rotting from the core. What can we do about it?

Malus ‘Yellow Transparent’. Photo: Veronika Roosimaa

Answer

The ‘Yellow Transparent’ apple is a hardy cultivar and usually without more problems than other apple trees… which is far from saying that it’s trouble-free. Indeed, producing appetizing apples is always a tour de force and certainly not a pastime for Laidback gardeners!

Dormant oil is useful in preventing the appearance of many insects and even certain diseases, but only those that overwinter on the bark. The cause of your bitten apples is the apple maggot, which overwinters in the apples on the ground. Oil in the dormant stage can do nothing against this pest.

Possible Solutions

Try hanging a red ball-shaped trap in your apple tree as soon as the blossoms fall, covered with a non air-drying “Tangle-Trap” type glue. Female apple maggots find the big red “apple” much more appetizing than the small apples in development, and will stick to the trap. This product is available from garden centres.

Red sticky trap for apple maggot. A good harvest! Source: netreefruit.org

As for the rotting from the core onwards, I can’t pinpoint the cause, except perhaps over-prolonged storage. The ‘Yellow Transparent’, in fact, is an apple that can be eaten fresh, but which really has no storage capacity: after just 2 weeks, it’s already good for composting! This could also be due to fungal or bacterial disease, and not necessarily to over-prolonged storage. It would be wise to consult a local expert or agronomist for a precise diagnosis.


Larry Hodgson published thousands of articles and 65 books over the course of his career, in both French and English. His son, Mathieu, has made it his mission to make his father’s writings accessible to the public. This text was originally published in Le Soleil newspaper on June 26, 2005.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, laidbackgardener.blog will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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