This tree is in the middle of a pasture with a tall grainy grass that I could not identify. It has this (seasonally appropriate) spooky quality to it. At first I couldn't determine what was causing this spookiness, but then I realized it's because this tree is LOADED with apples but there are NO leaves. Hence the fable about the leafless tree loaded with apples is born.
Probably this tree lost its leaves due to apple scab, a fungus that is prevalent in the Northeast. We have a friend who's a student at Middlebury College and doing some research on scab. We're anxious to hear her results as she is studying some of the trees that we are studying for cider production.