Bending Fruit Tree Branches - when and how?
I'm working with a 3 year old Baldwin apple tree, have pruned off the excess and wayward growth, and now would like to do some gentle bending of a few of the branches with less than ideal angles.
1) At what point in the year is it safe to begin the bending? Right now it's a 30F day, but it may freeze at night. Is it better to wait until any chance of freezing has passed?
2) How do you do your branch bending? Can I do it successfully by hand over time?
I have some concerns about using objects as hanging weights on the branches after observing that all my raspberries that I "manipulated" by bending/shaping with wire guides were much more vulnerable to disease and insects than the ones I let choose their own path. Accordingly, my instinct is to bend the apple branches very gingerly and only by hand. I'm an organic gardener, so prevention is key.
Thanks in advance for your ideas!