Newly planted apple trees - which leaves to pinch?
We just planted 4 apple trees at our new house. They were all purchased mail-order - 3 from Stark Brothers, 1 from Miller's nursery. All arrived pretty much as non-branched whips.
I live in Cenral PA, and followed the instructions in the Penn State extension guide for pruning newly-planted apple trees. Essentially I cut the tree back so I had about 4 buds radiating in different directions at the top of the whip, with the buds about 24" to 30" above the ground (I know this seems really low, but the "Pruning & Training" book I have said to do the same thing!).
Now that the weather has warmed, I have leaves bursting out all over. The problem is that it seems *all* the buds along the entire length of the tree have burst out with leaves.
My question is - do I pinch off all the leaves below the 4 sets at the top that I want to become branches? Or do I leave them for this season to give the tree a chance to develop good roots or something, then cut off those lower leaves/branches later?
Thanks for your help!