Trying to train pear tree

theedudenator(Zone 5)March 17, 2012

This is the third year for my pear tree.

I cannot get the branches to scaffold out away from the tree.

They keep trying to follow the central leader up.

They might be too large of branches to prop down?

Anyone tried to tie the branches down to the ground and/or trunk?

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alan haigh

Tying or better, spreading with a rigid nailed stick to make crotch angles more horizontal rather than simply pulling the end of the branch over bow-like as tying can do is necessary with most pear varieties to create a spreading tree and accelerate fruiting.

A 65 degree angle is about right so scaffold will be less likely to bend excessively under the load of fruit than something closer to horizontal- at least for the first "tier" of branches at the base of tree.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 5:21AM
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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

I agree, tying or spreading can both be very effective at establishing a good angle around 60 degrees. It's best if you could catch this while the scaffold branches are still green and supple when they first come out -- then all you need is clothespins to hold them down. Now that they're already out, you'll need to tie or spread them for an entire season until they harden up next winter. But you'll be thanking yourself in all subsequent years.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 8:02AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Its best to do it when the branch is thinner and more flexible. Bending those thicker branches on pears is very tough. Even bending thinner branches...the point where you bend, it will just go straight up from there...They really want to grow like a Christmas tree.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:24AM
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ltilton

Of course when they start bearing fruit, the weight will pull the branches down.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 2:21PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

Another tip, wait until the Spring flush of growth is done. That way, when you spread the branches, the whole branch gets spread out. If you spread before that, the new growth will still go straight up, so the old part of the branch will be horizontal, and the end of the branch will bend up.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 2:58PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

The Japanese gardeners had rocks with holes in them.
They would tie the limb, run the cord though the hole in the rock. Then gentle pull the cord tight & tie it.
Every few months they would untie the cord & pull it tighter then tie it.
They craved faces or designs on the rocks & past them down to younger family gardener.
It is said that some of them are hundreds years old.
Some people use bamboo stakes & cross members to hold limbs out from the tree.The stakes & members are much like the old rose trellis.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 3:36PM
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alan haigh

I disagree with any suggestion of spreading after first growth. The branch will respond better to spreading before that growth because that's when the tissue forms to hold it in its new position. As long as you don't go too horizontal it should assume a good position as long as it gets adequate light.

For me weights are a last resort that I use when I have no adequate way to spread or tie branches. What seems like the right weight may become too heavy and it's very difficult to get the angle right this way. I use it for very long branches when I'm rebuilding old apple trees sometimes. Usually for branches over 8 feet long where I don't care exactly what the angle will be.

Incidentally I've been pruning and training fruit trees every hour of every work day since Jan. 2 and still have about 2 weeks of it in front of me. I'll be doing summer pruning for most of that season as well. Been doing this for decades. Not bragging, but it might be helpful for you to know the source a bit. Hard to sort out advice on the internet. That isn't to say that a less experienced persons opinion or advice is necessarily inferior.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 3:53PM
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Dan.NY

What I have been doing, right or wrong, is placing a plastic bag with rocks in it on some part of the branch, somewhat close to the trunk. Seems to work but I gues I will hear from those with more knowledge than I if its a good idea or not.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 3:38PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

>I disagree with any suggestion of spreading after first growth. The branch
> will respond better to spreading before that growth because that's when
> the tissue forms to hold it in its new position.

Surely most of the branch thickening (secondary growth) occurs after the Spring flush of shoot growth? I'll pay closer attention this season.

>As long as you don't go too horizontal it
>should assume a good position as long as it gets adequate light.

This is not what has happened in my limited experience, which is with Seckel. When I have spread the branches before shoot growth, the new growth goes almost straight up. Perhaps Seckel is more determined to grow upright than most cultivars? I just took a look, and the branches where it is most pronounced are almost horizontal near the trunk, so I probably did go "too horizontal" as you say. Gives it kind of a saguaro cactus kind of look.

Alex

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 7:13PM
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RichinRichmond(7a)

I've also been trying to train my young fruit trees, and I've had trouble with branches splitting on both pear and plum. I pull the branch down gently, to put the spreader in, and RIP! it splits down the crotch. I don't feel like I'm pulling too hard, as the crotch angle is only ~30deg. Any tips from the experts?
thanks,
Rich

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 8:31PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

What time of year are you doing it? It seems to me that the crotch splitting is more likely when the tree is still dormant, and less likely once the tree is growing.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 8:51PM
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