First time pruner needs your help! Pictures included

mdchambe(5)March 13, 2013

Hello everyone,

The time has come for me to do the first pruning on my family's new orchard. There trees were all planted last spring as approximately 3/4 inch ~30 inch tall whips. These trees were all bought from Stark Bros. Sorry for the information overload request, I just want to try to make sure what I'm doing before i go chopping away!

Anyway, I've been trying to read on how I should prune these up. I'm planning to do central leader pruning on the apples (all semi dwarf) and pears (full size). Open center on the peaches (full size), and not sure on the plums and cherries (all dwarf).

After looking at some of these I thought I would snap some pictures and see if I can get some help/thoughts on how to prune these up.

Your help is greatly appreciated! Example pictures follow.

Golden Delicious (got a few like this) - nice leader, prune that big branch coming off right where the leader does? Some of the scaffold branches I would keep are very short, prune them back anyway? Lots of low branch growth, prune that all off, right?

Honeycrisp - seems like not very much growth. Easy to pick leader but low and short scaffold branches.

Stark Surecrop and Northstar cherries and Bubblegum Plum(dwarf varieties) - Very little growth it seems (they did leaf out nice, just didnt grow very much. Normal for dwarf varities to grow this little? Not sure at all how to prune!

Superior Plum - looks like it wants to be open center? Grew WAY more than my other 3 dwarf trees.

Intrepid Peach - Grew alot, reading that maybe I should have pruned last summer. If pruning to open center it looks like I would remove the top two branches and then use the next three big branches? Or no?

Reliance peach - Looks like it wants to be central leader. How to make this open center?

Moonglow Pear - scaffold branches look too high

Starking Delicious Pear - Nice leader. Scaffold branches look too low?

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Golden Delicious

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 8:43PM
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    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 8:44PM
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North Star Cherry (and others)

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 8:45PM
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Superior Plum

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 8:46PM
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Reliance Peach Pic

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 8:47PM
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Starking Delicious Pear Pic

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 8:48PM
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I know its a lot of info everyone, sorry. If I need to pare it back some let me know. Any help is appreciated!!!!!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 7:31PM
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Hopefully some of the more experienced will chime in...but

these are just small new trees. Last year they were mostly dealing with the shock of transplant. I would be reluctant to take much from any.
I would remove any split/competing leaders.
I would either remove or head back by 1/3 any branches that seem to have vigor equal to your leader. and thin out the top of the moon glow pear. Other than that let them establish. and worry about removing low/small branches when the trees get big enough to give you something higher up to work with.
I don't believe there is any point in heading back short lower branches. or removing all the small twiggy stuff even if you think it will go next year. It will provide energy this season for further long as they are not competing, crowding or sapping vigor from something you do plan to keep. Take it out later it will still be small enough to heal fast and clean.
Trees take time, you can't force all the shape growth and secondary branching you want in the first year or two.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:41PM
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Thanks for your thoughts rob. I thought prunimg to a central leader was going to be easy based on what I'd read but then I saw that my trees don't look like the example trees.

I'm not opposed to not doing much pruning his year I just want to try to do what is best for the trees.

Any other thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 11:06AM
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Yes, the books make it sound so easy, with those pictures of the nice well shaped trees......they never look like that especially when young, but they do smooth out and fill out as time goes by so don't panic if they seem misshapen now.

It is easy to over prune, it makes you feel like you are doing something. But early on I think it's best to only take out what you really have to...the lighter your pruning the sooner the trees will bear

I am still a rank amateur, so take my advice with great caution. There are a number of folks here that really know their stuff and hopefully they will chime in and correct me before I steer you wrong!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 12:39PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I agree with Rob that those guys did not put on much growth so you want to give them another year for more major training. I would also put a whole bunch of compost on each tree, given how little they grew they may be unhappy with the soil they are in. There are a few places where limbs are close to one another, remove one of the two. Also all those tiny guys on the lower trunk I would trim off. The peach and plum with more growth could be trained a bit, pick three scaffolds and get them evenly spread out and trim off the rest.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 1:30PM
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Thanks for the continued thoughts all. I'll go easy on the pruning this spring.

Really dissapointed to hear that the growth from the first year seems to have amounted to less than would typically be seen. We were part of last years drought but I thought I watered then pretty well every 7-10 days. I'll make sure to compost around them. Hope it helps!

About of the trees put on good growth, like the plum and peach shown above, I just didn't picture them. Then others grew little as shown above.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 3:22PM
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Any other thoughts would be appreciated, thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 2:05PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)


When trees are planted the road map of the first 3 years is SLEEP... CREEP.... & .....LEAP.

Except for dead-wood and obvious crossing branches.. this year just feed and protect.



    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 2:43PM
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