Spring Pruning Plan on 2 & 3 year olds

blackrag(6A East PA)February 24, 2013

As described repeatedly in this forum by others, I too, have been addictively adding trees to my small orchard. While a percentage of the trees were "allowed" to bear their first few pieces of fruit last season, I am anticipating the first real "harvest" out of about half of my 50 + trees. I have watched YouTube videos, searched this forum, re-read the Extention literature and Harvestman's writings until "worn-eared".

After picking scaffolds in each of their first year, stone fruits in open center, apples and pears in the central leader method, I have trained, late winter pruned, spring pruned, summer pruned, limbs pulled down with twine, ropes, plastic braces, wood braces, weights, etc..

My question at this stage is this-
While the stone fruits have alot of "tertiary" branching, my pomes, specifically apples, don't really have that many established. The scaffolds are mostly less than 1/2 the size of the trunk. I have decided to limit the height of the tree to 3 tiers. So, is there a rule of thumb at this age of tree to head back the scaffolds? 1/4? 1/3? 1/2? Thanks. Chad

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alan haigh

There's no rule of thumb but if branches are gangly heading can be helpful, but you should wait until about bloom to get best reaction as far as secondary branching further back on the branch. You will still probably get most growth at point of pinch or cut and all but straightest shoot (in terms of continuing direction of branch) need to be pinched back during the growing season to assure apical dominance of shoot going in the right direction to lead.

Cut about a third back of last years growth.

With many varieties you can hold onto a lot of extra scaffolds until tree starts really bearing to compensate for early lack of secondaries. Branches will often fill out later and you remove excess branches as they crowd. This doesn't seem to work so well for Fuji from my observation. Seems to postpone fruiting if you don't get lots of sun into the tree for this variety.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 6:08AM
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blackrag(6A East PA)

I understand. Thanks Again. Chad

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 7:19PM
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