corrective pruning ?'s
When faced with a tree that has been allowed to develop too many scaffolds to close together. Is it better to just thin them down to appropriate spacing/number all at once, or can I reasonably remove the extras in stages in order to not have a drastic reduction in crop.
Specifically I have a reine de reinette apple, that I allowed to get out of hand. In part from inexperience early on, in part due to it's habit, in part from deer damage, but in large part because I was unwilling to sacrifice early crops for long term structure.
The tree has a series of 4-5 scaffold radiating like wheel spokes over about 1.5-2' of trunk, starting just above deer browse height. I have known they should be thinned for several years, but they were not yet encroaching on each other, the tree was just starting to crop...and we all really like this apple.
But now they are branching into each other's space, and I must decide if I remove the extras, sacrificing yield for several seasons while the remainder fill the voids, Or if I can cut back those to be thinned out over several seasons, hoping the remainder back fill as I go and allowing me to keep the yield on the tree up?
I have some questions about dealing with a problem Bartlet pear as well.....it's a real mess! but I will save that for another thread.