Questions about pruning columnar apple tree

karenand(z8 Seattle)January 20, 2014

About 8 years ago I bought a columnar apple at the Garden Show in Seattle and planted in in our narrow side yard. It has wonderful apples (as long as I use the apple-maggot traps, and sometimes I put "footies" on the fruit).

The tree has a columnar shape with six very upright branches.

The problem is that it has grown to be very, very tall. Much taller than the 10' I was told to expect. All 6 branches extend about 18 feet up. We can't pick any of the fruit from the top half of the tree because we don't have a ladder than long and even if we did you couldn't get me to climb it.

So, I'd like to cut off each of the six branches at about 10 feet. Does this make sense, or will it result in the tree sending out dozens of little branches from that cutoff point?

Many thanks for any advice you can provide.



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alan haigh

It should be fine. Cut them back to small shoots if you can as this will allow the shoot to provide some apical dominance and reduce the excess response of vegetative regrowth at point of cuts.

Come back in July and cut back any vigorous surge of water sprouts or just rub them off as they appear during the growing season. That is the sprouts that appear near the cuts, hell bent to return the tree to its previous height.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 5:23PM
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karenand(z8 Seattle)


Thank you. This is exactly what I wanted to know, including how to deal with any water sprouts. My neighbors (who have had apples dropping on them all winter) will be thrilled to see this tree tamed.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 5:26PM
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