.In the past, apple trees were rarely found in the area south of a line from Columbus to Augusta. University of Georgia scientists now report that the development of new varieties of apples is making it possible to grow apples in all parts of the state. Apple trees are high maintenance crops. This is especially true in the coastal region, where high winds may make pruning necessary more frequently than the mountainous areas of northern Georgia or plains area of Central Georgia.
Remove weeds in the area 2 to 3 feet around the base of the tree using a garden hoe. Chop the weeds in small, short strokes. Remove and discard the weeds so they will not take root again.
Mow the area between rows with a lawn mower or garden tractor. Keep at least 4 feet away from the tree itself and do not run over any of the root system with the lawn mower blades.
Add a layer of mulch around the tree. Place pine straw, tree bark or cypress mulch in a 3- to 4-inch-thick layer at the base of the tree. Fan the mulch out so that mulch extends to the drip line, or circular line formed by the tree's branches.
Prune the apple tree shortly after planting. Plan for the seedling to develop a rounded shape near the top and trim off any irregular branches with pruning shears. Inspect the tree often during the growing season for branches that distract from the tree's appearance and remove them as soon as possible.
Give a heavy pruning to your trees in late March. Remove diseased and damaged limbs from the tree during this time. Thin branches on mature trees to ensure they will be able to hold the season's produce by pruning smaller limbs away from sturdier ones in the center of the apple tree.
Prepare a solution of one part bleach to five parts water in a plastic bucket. Saturate a soft cloth with the disinfecting solution. Wipe down the pruning shears with this solution, paying special attention to the blades. Allow the shears to dry then store in a tool shed that is free of moisture.
Have a soil analysis performed by your local Extension office in April each year. Make sure that the ph of the soil is around 7.0. Add lime to the soil if the ph is lower than this amount; the results of the soil analysis will determine the amount to apply.
Fertilize the tree in March or April using a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Use one pound of fertilizer for each year of the tree's growth up to a maximum of five to six pounds per tree. Put on latex gloves and a dust mask. Pour this fertilizer into a plastic bucket and carry it to your orchard.
Sprinkle the fertilizer on the ground in a circular area that begins 6 inches from the tree base and extends to the drip line. Broadcast the fertilizer evenly in this area by sprinkling it on with your hands. Allow the fertilizer to naturally penetrate the ground, which may take several days.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Discard the latex gloves and dust mask by placing them into a plastic bag and sealing them tightly. Place any remaining fertilizer back into the original bag and rinse out the plastic bucket.