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Hortiscope: Apple tree can wait for hard frost to transplant

Q: I am wondering if it is too late to transplant an apple tree that is 6 or 7 years old. It is more than 10 feet tall. There are apples on the tree. Also, is it too late to transplant a Ponderosa tree? I don't know how old it is, but is about 12 feet tall.

A: While they can be planted now, it definitely would be better if you waited until a good frost shuts everything down for the season. The lingering heat in the soil will help keep the root system active, but will not stimulate new growth. I hope you are going to employ someone who is handy with a tree spade. These are large trees to be moving by hand and having any success in doing so.

Q: How do I get rid of chokecherry tree borers? My tree is dead and has been cut down. However, the trunk that remains is full of these creatures. I am concerned about other trees becoming infested.

A: A couple of approaches can be used, but it depends on where you live. Drill some holes in the stump and then pour kerosene into the holes to burn it slowly. You can get a stump grinder to get rid of the stump. Haul away the sawdust and other debris when finished.

Q: I have a Haralson apple tree. I usually wait until after a light frost to pick the apples. Now I hear from some people that you should not wait that long. When should I pick the apples?

A: Pick them when they taste good to you. Waiting for a frost is not necessary.

Q: Thanks for your advice earlier in the season. Our arborvitaes are recovering nicely after following your advice. We are going to wrap them with burlap this winter. Do you recommend using treated or untreated burlap? I under-

stand that treated burlap can irritate sensitive plants. Would this be considered a sensitive plant or does it not matter what kind of burlap I buy?

A: You don't want to wrap the arborvitaes in burlap. Just put up a screen of burlap to protect the plants from the direct rays of the sun and wind. Use coarse, untreated burlap. It should be available in an old-fashioned hardware, garden or farm supply store.

Q: Any ideas why apples drop off the tree before they are ripe? In the past, the tree has been loaded with apples, but they start to drop off around mid-July. Most are on the ground by September. Thinning through the summer doesn't seem to slow the drop

A: Several critters out there are known to cause premature apple drop. All feed beneath the skin of the apple and cause the apples to drop in July. You can control the pest by using traps that are available in most garden outlets. Sprays also are available. Spraying should start at the beginning of the apple blossom pink stage and continue every two weeks until three applications have been applied.

To contact Ron Smith for answers to your questions, write to Ron Smith, NDSU Department of Plant Sciences, Dept. 7670, Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050 or e-mail