Cherry tree pruning

econ0003(10a CA / 8b CA)May 21, 2013

I have some cherry trees that were planted last year as bare root in Julian, CA. Two of them struggled a little bit and then sent up one or two shoots late in the growing season. They are a Bing and Rainier.

I cut the first year growth back by 1/2 during last winter. Now they are both sending up shoots only at the very tip where last years growth was trimmed back. I expected some branching lower on last years growth like the Lapins(3rd tree back).

Now it looks like the trees may develop a 4' trunk if I don't take some action soon. A 1' - 2' trunk would be more ideal for me. What is the best way to bring them down, encourage lower branching, while trying not to stunt growth too much? Trim back the top most growth? Prune last years growth down more? Some thing else?


This post was edited by econ0003 on Tue, May 21, 13 at 12:35

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


You could head them lower but you probably won't get as good a response as you did at the higher topping earlier. Other than that I don't think you can do much else at this point. They are growing awfully well it would be a shame to have to cut that off.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 12:34PM
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econ0003(10a CA / 8b CA)


What about notching above dormant buds or small shoots? Is there any way to encourage shoots lower rather than hacking off all of the new growth?


    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 1:27PM
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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

You've got like 50 leaf buds all the way up and down the trunk of that tree! Personally I'd take all the leaf buds off for the bottom 2 or 2.5 feet of the trunk, thus forcing the remaining buds above that point to send more branches out to form more leaves. I guess I'm not an expert but it might be worth a shot, maybe. I got a foot of growth on each of 5 branches on my own sweet cherry the first year via this same process.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 3:35PM
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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

Also take some of the extra leaf buds off between whorls of branches, so that the whorls form where YOU want them to, and not where the tree prefers.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 3:44PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


You could try notching to force lower buds. I haven't but am doubtful at this point. But you could try that without hurting anything (some chance of bacterial canker). The tree is set on a course of pushing those upper shoots and it's going to take a lot to change the plumbing at this point.

You could also try removing buds as dm suggests. I have once and didn't get the response I wanted. That also reduces the opportunity for branching later if you have to head.

At this point if notching doesn't work you might be better to wait and head lower next spring. Use this summer to grow roots and the tree, with bigger roots, will catch back up some next summer.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 4:18PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

See this link on debudding. Also check other links on the left side of the page.
Debudding worked really well for me. My tree branched like crazy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Debudding Sweet Cherry

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 4:27PM
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alan haigh

Pinch back tiny shoots of buds you want to discourage and leave the ones you want to branch out. If you come back and do this several times during the growing season you can steer the tree without cutting it back substantially and losing overall growth. Then you can top it during dormancy if you want.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 7:16PM
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econ0003(10a CA / 8b CA)

Thanks for everyone's help. i think I am going to try what harvestman suggested.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 1:10AM
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