- First, spray your apple trees right now with 50 lbs. of urea (spray urea, 44 lbs. is the actual recommended rate, but hey, 50 won't hurt and that is the bag size) per acre in 100 gallons of water while the leaves are still on the trees. Contrary to popular belief, this will not impact winter hardiness. Just keep in mind you are adding app. 23 lbs. of actual nitrogen per acre to the orchard, so adjust your fertilizer program accordingly.
- Second, flail mow/chop the orchard as late as you can and when the majority of leaves have fallen from the trees. Sweep or blow leaves into the orchard middle from within the row is helpful so that the majority of leaves can be chopped/shredded.
Thanks to Bill MacHardy for doing the research on these practices.