Apple Trees - No fruit

Three years ago, we bought a house in north Alabama that had three apple trees in the backyard. At the time, they were 5 years old and the home owner said that he had a "few" apples on them. This was in August 2001.
The next year, there were no apples. One tree's leaves wilted and many of the branches turned black. Thinking it was a disease, I cut off all the bad limbs. The other two trees grew fine but produced no fruit.
A family member suggested that we prune the trees in the following winter. So in Spring 2003, we pruned the trees pretty hard. Unfortunately, we had a late freeze in May and it killed many of the blossoms (including those on a neighboring peach tree). So the trees just put on new growth for the entire year, but no fruit.
This year, each tree had only ONE cluster of blossoms. Nothing came of the two trees. The 3rd (the formerly diseased tree) tree started to put on fruit and then they withered and died. So again, we are without fruit. One tree is about 9 feet wide and about 10 feet tall, another is 5 feet wide and 11 feet tall, and the other "diseased" tree is about 2 feet wide and 7 feet tall.
Any tips for getting these trees to produce will be appreciated. In particular, what kinds of fertilizers should we use? Is having a peach tree nearby a bad idea? How often should one prune the trees? Pesticides? Etc?
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This is a long shot but it may be part of the problem. It sounds like one tree is badly diseased. It may be better to remove it to prevent the spread of the disease. The others may be a variety that is poorly suited to your climate. The tree may require more or fewer hours of chilling.
The trees should not require fertililzer. The trees normally benefit from robust pruning. The trees are a size that should produce heavily. A happy tree will set so many fruit that thinning is required to remove 80% of the fruit set. The proximity to the peach tree should have no effect.
I would start over with new trees from a local nursery so that it is well suited to your area. You need not remove all of your present trees to start a new one.
Dick

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Richard Cline wrote:

I think proper pruning would be more beneficial.
--
Travis in Shoreline Washington

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Hi O.B., I'll try and answer some of your questions.
"O.B." wrote:

The first requirement is the appearance of blossoms. You may not be seeing them if the trees are 'full size' trees which can take over 8 years to produce fruit. If the trees are on any type of dwarfing root stock, you should see a graft between the ground and the lowest branches. This will appear as a bulge in the trunk or sudden change in diameter of the trunk. If they are dwarfed, your time to blossom will be shorter, say 3 to 5 years. You may get more blossoms next year.
The second requirement if pollination. If these apple trees are all of the same cultivar (i.e. Red Delicious), they won't pollinate each other. You
need an apple tree of another cultivar type. Some Apple cultivars require specific other types to be pollinated, but that is less common. If you have a decorative crab apple in your yard, that might also do the job, or something nearby in a neighbors yard.
Having a peach tree nearby has no affect on the apple trees. Just allow enough spacing so that the trees will not grow into each other as they mature.
Depending on the condition of the tree, it is generally on a as needed basis. It's a bit complex to describe, but you will find many excellent references on the Internet.
Third requirement is tree maintenance. I would use a slow release fertilizer, like composted manure and mulch, mostly in the Fall, so the trees will start up with a good boost in the Spring. You can give them Miracle Grow, for now. Sometimes a shot of Potassium will encourage blossoming, but I don't think that is your problem. Besides watering, feeding, and weeding, you will want to give one spray of dormant oil in early Spring. Fungicides up to petal fall, and Fungicides and Insecticides together and a regular schedule. Start with something simple like 'Orchard Spray' and depending on your situation adjust your spray schedule accordingly. We spray every 2-3 weeks during the fruit growing season. If the general type spray isn't working, try and identify the particular pests (visual inspection of fruit or sticky traps), and consult with a nursery or extension service for more advise.

Sherwin Dubren
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<< "O.B." wrote:

The problem is the loss of fruit due to frost/freeze. The trees had enough energy to produce a normal crop, but lost it. Thus, the energy went into growth.. When a tree is in a vigorous growth cycle, it won't produce fruit buds for the next year's crop.
I would prune normally and be prepared for a "snowball" bloom next year. It will be important to greatly thin - and early to prevent biennial bearing. This is a condition where the trees only bear a crop in alternate years.
John Schmid John C. Schmid snipped-for-privacy@aol.com snipped-for-privacy@osu.edu
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Freezing frosts in Alabama???????
I live near Chicago, and have never seen the phenomenon you describe. Apple trees need a certain amount of chilling to produce fruit. That brings up another possibility that HIS variety won't produce fruit in the warm climate of Alabama.
If O.B. has full size trees, they wont start producing fruit for at least 8 years.
Sherwin D.
Nasmen wrote:

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