Satsuma staking question - pic

trsinc(8 TX)April 9, 2009

I just bought this Satsuma yesterday at a very reputable nursery. They all looked like this - staked with very thin trunks. Noone was in the tree department to ask, while I was there.

Do I leave this stake in? Do I use a different stake that isn't right up against the trunk? If so, please give details. All help is appreciated.

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bcfromfl(z8a NW FL)

This is typical for a grafted, nursery-raised tree. Are you going to leave it potted, or plant it? The stake gives the graft support so it doesn't snap off in a wind, or transporting. I'd leave it in place until the trunk appears to be straining aqainst the ties. You may also consider adding a second, taller stake if you'd like to pull the top growth closer to center, although it will fill out in time.

BTW, you need to brush off the lower growths.

-Bruce

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 11:25AM
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trsinc(8 TX)

Thanks! And yes, I'm planting it in the ground.

Why do I need to brush off the lower growths?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 11:42AM
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tcstoehr

I'm going to say some negative things here, but only out of sincere honesty.
This is exactly the sort of tree I prefer to avoid. I doubt this tree will be able to support itself. If not, and it were my tree, I would consider disposing of it. Although I'm not suggesting that you do. Even the top half of that tree seems to be helplessly flopping to one side. A healthy three should always be able to support itself.
This was possibly a bare-root tree that the nursery acquired last year and potted it up after not selling it. It may even have become root-bound in that pot. But I can't tell from that picture so I'm just mentioning the possibilities. Nurseries often put chemical fertilizers into potted trees like this which can encourage a weak, top-heavy tree. Again, just a possibility.
Anyway, your job is to make that tree as stable and sturdy as it can possibly be by corrective pruning. My approach to that is more radical than most, so I'll just say that this is what *I* would do to prune it. I would continue the support for this year, and remove one of those top large branches that are growing too close to each other. And cut the other existing branches back by half. Put it in the ground and let it get established. Then next winter while the tree is dormant, I'd cut back those top branches back to two or three buds. Yes, that will be alot. Furious growth should follow the next spring which you need to keep in check with summer pruning. We want this tree to be put back into balance, and the top is too big at this time.
One thing you have going for you is that plums branch quite prolifically. And your tree seems to be putting out some strong growth along the trunk. Keep these. Do not prune them this year. Encourage them with kind words. If there were more of those on the trunk I'd get rid of the entire top. But as it is, I would hope that at least one of these new branches along the trunk will eventually form a considerable part of the tree's eventual framework. If you see anymore buds along the trunk, especially on the opposite side of existing branches, encourage those as well.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 12:35PM
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bcfromfl(z8a NW FL)

With all due respect, tcstoehr, this is a citrus tree and not a plum. Young citrus trees frequently look exactly like this. I think the tradeoff between losing green growth at this stage, versus leaving it on for increased photosynthesis, means that the latter is preferable. Citrus trees have very bushy, branchy growth, and are "self-pruning" in the respect that branches frequently die as others take their place. It's not necessary to prune citrus trees as one would a stone fruit.

I have many citrus trees, and purchased a navel that looked almost exactly like the tree pictured last year. In just a single year's time, it has filled in the "empty" side and is well on its way to becoming an impressive little tree.

I would expect that this tree should sell for about $19.95 or so. A bigger, better tree would probably go for $39.95, but sometimes we make choices for what we can afford. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Trsinc -- you want to brush off those lower growths because you want to encourage a crotch about 30-36" from the ground. Otherwise, branches lower down the trunk prevent air movement from keeping the trunk dry, and can keep sap from heading further up to encourage healthier, upper growth. Also, having branches near the graft zone is risky if one breaks off and introduces disease too close to the graft.

-Bruce

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 12:58PM
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tcstoehr

Whoops, I though it was a plum. I grow lots of plums, but never a lemon. What do I know from lemons?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 2:29PM
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bcfromfl(z8a NW FL)

Not to be technical, but it's actually a tangerine. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 2:56PM
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trsinc(8 TX)

Thanks again. :-)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 4:24PM
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