Dwarf apple lean -- correction possible?

We have a dwarf Mutsu apple (great flavor) which developed a severe "lean" after a fall rain. The tree was heavily weighted on one side with a lot of fruit. After more rain the lowest branch is nearly touching the ground.
Has anyone had any success in righting such a tree, possibly by applying tension over months of time? My wife says just rip it out... and I have to say that once the soil has been displaced it's easy to imagine the same problem reoccurring even if we manage to straighten it up.
Tales of success or failure welcome!
    -frank
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I would think it could be pulled back up to a better position. Maybe put good tension on it and soak the soil with a hose and see what happens. I'm not sure how big this tree is but if it's a dwarf, it's not huge. I'm wondering if the trunk is still flexible? Usually by the time the tree produces very much fruit, the wood is pretty hard. If you do manage to improve it by either moving the roots in the soil or by flexing the trunk, you will want to stake it to hold it in that position for at least 2 years. Apple trees don't need to have a nice straight trunk. Don't overlook the possibility of creative pruning in the spring to force growth in the direction you want.
Steve
Frank Miles wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I go along with Steve, as you can see in my reply. However, I would not try to necessarily straighten it out in one operation. I would apply righting force
keeping an eye on the roots on the leaning side. If they look like they are coming out of the ground, or you hear some breaking, I would stop and wait several months before another attempt. I forgot about the wetting of the roots, and that is probably a good move to help release the pressure on the roots in the leaning side. If you have any roots exposed to the air, I would cover them with soil so they don't dry out.
Sherwin D.
Steve wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi Frank, You do not say how old the tree is, or what size it is (trunk diameter). Your mistake was possibly not thinning the fruit to keep the weight off the branches, not propping up the weighted branches when the fruit got big, and not staking the tree earlier. I think your idea of gradually applying a righting force to the tree is the best approach. I assume this is a fairly mature tree, so digging it up and replanting would be quite a chore, and may disturb the roots too much. Depending on the rootstock you have the Mutsu on, the root structure of dwarf trees can be shallow, so staking them is not out of the question. You can also do some selective pruning to encourage more growth on the side opposite the lean, to balance the tree more. If this is a healthy and productive tree, I would not dig it out, as that would be a last resort. My dwarf trees have never leaned over as far as yours, because of the supports and stakes I use, but some of them have developed a lean. I have driven in deep stakes and applied gradual pressures and in some cases it straightens them, and in others it just keeps them from leaning more. If your soil is very loose, you may want to be more careful in future selection of dwarf trees as regards the root stock they are on.
Sherwin D.
Frank Miles wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@u.washington.edu writes:

A bit over two years ago, during a heavy wind storm after our soil having been saturated with rain for several days, one of my pear trees fell over, not just leaning but all the way over onto the chain link fence. The cherry tree had fallen over that June (that was a decay problem, the trunk was completely hollow!), so I just had to try to save the pear tree, not wanting to lose two trees in one year!
The neighbor came over and, between the two of us, we managed to get it upright and braced it with a large forked limb from the cherry tree. That left the end of the brace far enough from the tree to allow a stake to be driven into the ground to secure the brace. It has borne fruit two summers since that happened. We've left the brace and stake in place and are not likely to remove it for another couple of years to help ensure the roots have had a chance to secure themselves even more in what became soil that was too loose. The tree was probably at least ten or fifteen years old, hard to say since it appears to be a semi-dwarf of some type as it doesn't seem to want to grow especially tall and is probably12-15 feet at the tallest, but then hard to say with pruning. (It's a Barlett with lucious fruit!)
Regarding your soil being displaced, I would think as long as the tree is upright and secure, that time will attend to the soil issue. You wouldn't, off course, want to remove the braces in just a few weeks, it being important to give the soil plenty of time to "re-establish" as well as new roots to grow into new areas. Definitely don't cultivate the soil in the drip line. If the braces are not attractive, place some yard ornaments around them to disguise the braces, maybe a good place for deer statues? (Be creative.)
It wouldn't be my desire to just get rid of a good tree because it leans if there is any way it can be saved. If you remove it, it has no chance for recovery. If you try and it doesn't make it, you can always remove it later. Luck may very well be on your side as it was for the pear tree and it will flourish and reward you for the effort. It will surely survive at least long enough for you to get some good grafts from it. It's worth the effort to try to save it, especially if you like the fruit. Even a same variety may not give as delicious of fruit as this one does (whereas grafts would).
Definitely give it a try!
Glenna
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks to all who have responded. I'm going to try to straighten it... hopefully it will work.
    -f
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.