apple tree pruning to promote spurs

urbanfarmer7bApril 18, 2010

How do I prune the shoots on my apple tree to create future spurs? (pictures below) On some trees like the one below there's a lot of shoots on branches and I don't have a sense cutting them back (others like the Arkansas black I have is forming more spurs). I've read that if I cut them back to one or two shoots it will push it to form spurs, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I've been doing summer pruning to keep it in check, but I wonder if the tree just has more vigor than I planned; and did I misread the information on pruning? Any help is appreciated (including recommended books, or general comments).

As background I am attempting to grow an apple tree fence. Becuase my space is limited, I'm keeping it 2 demensional, I use posts and spreaders to keep the tree in form. As much as I've read, I'm still a novice and this is a bit of an experiment. The fence row is a variety of trees, this picture is 'enterprise' spur forming on M111 planted in 2006 as a 1 year whip. Ideally I like it to get around 12 to 15 ft.

Thanks, Robert

Tree followed by a branch (see the 6" shoots, no spurs).

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myk1(5 IL)

Timing, timing, timing.

I assume the Arkansas Black is a spur type. You don't have to do anything to those kind.

I'm not sure if it's a set time based on your weather or a set time based on when the fruit is ripe because so far I only have one tree that wanted to go all tree and no fruit, but on that tree, pruning for spurs happens mid to late August, about the same time as the fruit is ripe.

I've heard from an extension's Youtube video to prune in early summer or spring to cause spurs, that the sunlight has something to do with it. That has not been my experience. That leads me to believe it has something to do with the individual tree and when they fruit.

IMO, M111 as an espalier will desire to grow bigger than what you want and it will take a long time to convince it that it had better fruit because something is keeping it from growing big enough.
My Arkansas Black is semi-dwarf and never flowered until I let it go. It took about 5 years to fruit.
My dwarf espaliers fruited the second year.

I would try pinching the shoots back late summer.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 12:00AM
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myk1(5 IL)

BTW, this exact topic is why I found my way to Gardenweb.

I think it was Jellyman's recommendation for late summer pruning and it took three years but the tree I was having problems with was loaded this year.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 6:39AM
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Should I wait to cut back the growth until August, and then cut it back to 2-3 buds?

I understand what you are saying about individual trees and the M111. I'm patient on the fruiting, plus the squirrels get them anyway.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 12:47PM
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myk1(5 IL)

Or pinch the tips. I like a bushier espalier and more fruiting points so I pinch the tips.
My tree picked up this problem later in life so it can handle the weight and I hope overloading it with fruit will help burn up some of its energy.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 4:11PM
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