beheading plum to get new low branches

mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)March 2, 2013

To All:

I have some 3 year old plum trees with a 1 - 2 inch calipers which had been uplimbed ( not by me) so that the lowest branch is 5 feet from the ground.

I want to develop it as a fan with the lowest branches starting at 18 - 24 inches from the ground.

I I were to just cut the trunk at that low level, will it develop new branching?????

Any input greatly appreciated
Thanx, Mike

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


I won't cut that size tree back that low. You might get a sprout or two that you could make a new lower tree from but you might not. If you do cut it back you might want to collect some graftwood now. Then try and graft it later down low if it doesn't break any buds.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 1:42PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)


Hadn't thought of taking scion from a tree and grafting it on to itself !!!!!!!!!


    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 2:24PM
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alan haigh

On apples and pears branches can often be set by scoring the trunk above a likely node-maybe an inch and a half wide cut with a sharp saw through the cambium layer when trees are in bloom. Never tried it in on plums.

If there are squirrels in your neighborhood that's a good point to begin your scaffold structure if you hope to baffle them from fruit.

Plums also respond well to festooning limbs which would bring fruit downward as you create a kind of upside down open center.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 2:38PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)


I will try scoring and report. "Festooning" will not help me create the "fan" that I want.

I think I should wait until late May (am 35 miles south of Albany, NY) when the trees are actively growing.

Do you think that trying a "bud or veneer graft" from an upper branch would also work?

What do you suggest?


    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 4:23PM
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If you are thinking about chopping it low, why not just go ahead and graft it at the same time. Use a cleft, rind, side or bark graft at the stump.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 1:27AM
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alan haigh

I am no grafting expert and only perform cleft and splice grafts. Seems to me that what Murky suggests is a sensible approach, but if graft doesn't take you will probably lose tree. If you do it wait until a week or two after it begins to grow and use parafilm or something to stop grafts from drying out before they begin growth.

If it was an apple or pear tree you could simply cut it to the height you want it and it would almost certainly survive, sending out fresh and vigorous new wood at point of cut, but stone fruit doesn't have the same kind of tendency of reliably sending out new wood from old bark.

You have no squirrel issues at site? They do love almost ripe plums. At least they don't eat them green as they do many other kinds of fruit.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 6:50AM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

Murky, Harvestman
The more I am thinking about it the more I am leaning towards chopping and grafting.
Harv... Yes I have squirrels but my attention has not yet turned to them because I don't expect much fruit until next summer (2014) .
My original question was related to the plum trees only because they are the only older trees.
This past summer I planted 50 other assorted apples, pears, peaches and apricots. The orchard measures 150' x 50' and is enclosed by a chain link fence. The apples and pears will be espaliered and the plan for the stone fruit is a fan.
I am thinking of installing seasonally removable netting over the entire orchard (like a roof-over) draping over the edges or just on the individual rows.
See the photo.
I have not researched all anti-squirrel and bird options. Any suggestions are appreciated.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 7:38PM
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alan haigh

Couple electrified wires at base of fence will probably stop squirrels and surely stop coons.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 8:14PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Impressive setup!

Plums at that caliper are very likely to send out new shoots from the cut. I have been out pruning and it seems like all the places I headed 1-2" limbs the previous winter produced large watersprouts last summer. Peaches are much less likely to do that. Plums also are relatively easy to graft so throw in a few grafts as backups and your odds are now very high.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:31AM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)


It took me all summer. I had pains in places I did not know I had places... AND... I can't wait to get out there again this year


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 9:50AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I am envying your setup. Did you put any of the posts in concrete?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 1:56PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

No these are 3 inch Schedule 40 galvanized steel posts sunk 3 feet into the ground.

Other than the fence and driving the poles I insisted on doing the rest myself. I didn't realize how much work was involved. But.... I found out that I was a masochist because I think I enjoyed the pain >


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 3:13PM
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Unfortunately, some folks only want the trees to be green and easy to ride a mower under... They don't think about *Picking* fruit... so they trim the trees so the bottom branches are all about 6' up...

So.. When lopping stuff way back - I haven't had luck getting horizontal shoots... I usually get BIG watersprouts that want to go STRAIGHT up....

BUT... you can then bend them down or spread them to make them into a "Branch" if you want to....


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 4:47PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

Here is to..... HOPE and CHOP. !!!!!!!!!!


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:35PM
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