pls help with pruning advice for my chestnuts (see pics)

johndoug(z6 Philly)March 27, 2012

hi - i bought 2 dunstan chestnuts in 3 gallon pots last year. i didn't like the shape, but they were the only 2 they had at end of season.

looks like they kind of have 2 leaders (the pictures are of the 2 trees, although they look similar). should i just leave them both? as cutting one of them i'm concerned about cutting 50% of the tree. thanks much for your response

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

are nuts fruit??? .. i have actually wondered about that ...

with trees in general [though fruit nuts do weird things] ... we do NOT remove any of the canopy for a year or two.. to allow root growth ..

think of every leaf as a food making machine.. to process the sun and nutrients.. to grow the roots.. to grow a good tree...

until your trees are 'fully established' ... i would hesitate to cut off half of the leaves ... which is what you are suggesting by removing one leader ...

now.. i think the root of your problem .. is based on whether you are looking for a pretty lawn tree for shade ... which is usually single leaders and straight.. and trimmed to height ...

as compared to pure nut production.. wherein .. shape and form would NOT be a priority ...

as i drive by orchards.. i am truly amazed what the fruit peeps do to their trees.. for production .. and i would never have anything in my garden.. that looked like such ...

so define your goal for the 'look' of the plant.. and you will have a better idea of where to go with pruning in a year or two ...

ken

PS: personally .. i would go for single leader at the end of NEXT year ... by which time they would be in ground two full seasons ...

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 9:09AM
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cousinfloyd

I don't think I know enough to try to give advice, but I'll throw out a question: what about just pruning one side back for now so the other side can exhibit apical dominance and then cutting the weak side off later?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 7:05AM
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alan haigh

Cut out the co-dominant that that you choose. You can either choose the straightest (most vertical) one or use a post to straighten the largest one.

You need to have a central leader for at least the first few feet of trunk and I advise you maintain one for the entire tree as long as it's practical.

The tree can handle major surgery, believe me.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:25AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

see... there you go..

the fruit guy says go for it ..

the tree guy says let it be ..

you have two.. how about you do an experiment.. and do one.. and delay on the other.. and report back in a few years ...

you have at least a decade before you get any nuts.. so in all reality .. it wont make a lick of difference what you do this season ... as long as you water them properly so they live ...

still dont know if a nut is a fruit ... lol

ken

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 11:23AM
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johndoug(z6 Philly)

good suggestions ken. i like your suggestion that if you don't care about beauty, to leave it. i don't care about beauty, i bought these for nuts. however, if the split leader is going to be prone to splitting and shortening the lifespan of the tree, i might want to cut. only concern i have with cutting back to keep the straight leaders of both, is that there are really no laterals on these. if i cut to the one leader, won't all laterals start from the top? then my lowest branches will be overhead. i'm amazed a nursery would grow such a tree.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 8:33PM
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alan haigh

It's about strength as much as beauty. 2 equal sized leaders can't rap around each other and when stressed often split down the middle killing the tree. If the bark inverts you'd be a fool not to remove one of them but in general it will not slow down the tree significantly if you get it right now. Tree people with training will agree on this.

What is the advantage of leaving it as it is?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 5:55AM
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