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Apple Replant Disease

Apple trees may grow poorly when planted in non-sterilised soil.  This poor growth is most frequent when apple orchards are replanted but may also occur when apple is planted in soils which have not previously grown apple.

  • Affected trees have a reduced root system that results in poor growth and cropping, particularly during the early years after planting.
  • The root system is reduced mainly because of the effects of several Pythium species.
  • Apple variety/rootstock combinations vary in their susceptibility e.g., Cox, Golden Delicious or James Grieve on M.9 rootstock are more likely to suffer replant problems.
  • More vigorous variety/rootstock combinations such as Bramley on MM.106 are much less likely to be affected.
  • Previously it was possible to test potential new orchard sites for replant disease, but the test is no longer provided as a service.
  • Soil fumigation pre-planting can reduce the effects of replant disease.  The most effective fumigant is chloropicrin, which can only be applied by contractor.  Pre-planting drenches with formalin are also usually effective.
  • Treatments other than soil sterilants include placing peat compost in the planting hole or using trickle irrigation, or soil mulches or a combination of these.
  • Replanting in the areas that were the alleyways of the previous orchard offers an alternative approach, which may reduce the replant problem.