I have five old apple trees in my backyard which are quite old. I would estimate the oldest to be about 25 years old, and it has a trunk diameter of 30 cm (12 inch):
The problem I have with these old trees is that they grow like crazy. They have really dug in through the years. I was told that the former owners of the property would cut away any shoots each year, but I had hoped that I could avoid this work, since I don’t like cutting trees.
Last year they just got too big for my backyard garden, so I cut the trees back to where they were used to be before I moved in. That left me with a lot of twigs but the garden looked nice again.
Then the trees start growing like crazy this spring, putting up 50 cm (20 inch) shoots (see the first picture) and worst of all – not a single flower or apple 🙁 So no apples on this years shoots.
They have used all their energy for growth and nothing for reproduction (apples). So I guess I’ll select about 10 shoots on each tree and cut away the rest to see if they’ll produce apples next year. Last year I picked 19 kg (42 pounds) for eating, and the birds got much more out of it.