Guessing these are fruit spurs, still a bit of a mystery to me in
what to cut and what to leave on.
To me, the entire tree is spur bound and is not putting out enough vegetative shoots to adequately serve the spurs. What I want to see is one year pencils of vegetative wood amongst the spur wood- upward shoots, usually between 6 and 12 inches long- sometimes longer depending on variety and other things.
I don't have a mathematical formula for how many of these shoots are needed to serve how much spur wood- I should work on that, but I know it when I see it (or at least I have a false confidence that I do).
With a tree like that I'd remove at least half the spur wood and give it some extra N to see if I could get it to grow more vigorously.
Once you get those pencils growing you begin a cycle of them turning fruitful and eliminating older spurs while leaving some new pencils. Some varieties bear the best fruit on two year wood, some three and some are tip bearers. Most of the new varieties bear on very short spurs from two or three year wood.
A tree with too many spurs and not enough pencils tends to be biennial and produce small less flavorful fruit.
My Liberty/Frankentree is largely spur-bound, as Harvestman puts it, on the older wood, and I've been thinning the spurs and heading back fairly hard. I guess now I'll give it a little N. What's the best way to do that?
Throw a little urea or any quick release source when the trees start to show green and maybe again in late spring. For a small tree you only need about the N. equivalent of what's in a half cup of urea (46% N) for each application- spread away from the trunk to just beyond the drip line. Apply just before or during rain or water it in.
Thanks, and good morning to you.
Thank you HM!
You're right about the low vegetative shoots.
Here is a tree with LOTS! Picture before pruning and picture when done.
Tell me if you could hire me with a little training.
Seems still allot of wood after I'm done but I have to allow a little extra to share for moose.
At least the tree isn't spur bound and will quickly generate new shoots. I suggest that next year you leave some of the less vigorous annual wood and let us know if it improves the quality of the fruit.
I came to my way of cycling spurs not based on comparison and personal experience but on how it is often done with free standing trees in huge commercial orchards that hire consultants to train their pruning crews. The pencils are said to feed the developing fruit and if you wait for the development of new ones after pruning all of last year's off you not only don't get much spur replacement but developing fruit has less carbohydrate to work with at crucial early development.
Same general approach applies to pears, but pears as well as some apples can be tricky because most of the new growth is sometimes excessively vigorous and you've almost no moderate vigor new wood to work with.
Thanks for your advise HM!