Cutting fruit frees to maintain height

dogfarmNovember 5, 2012

I live outside Phoenix, AZ. I am planting peach, apricot, apple trees in October. I am interested in keeping them to a bush size for easier maintenance. Videos show cutting the trees to 18" when planting in order to keep them small. Should I cut the trees at this time of year (fall in AZ, mild winters)or wait until spring.

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


In your climate that initial cut can be done fall or spring. After all that's only a couple weeks apart, right;-) Just be careful cutting back trees over 0.75 inch caliper. Those big trees without low branches sometimes don't push any buds down low. I lost the scion variety on a new tree that way this past spring.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 12:07PM
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Just a question-why not just buy dwarfs?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 4:45PM
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If you cut the tree to knee height it will have a good size relative to you. I'm 6'4" so my knee height is some where closer to 2'. 15" is a good starting point but does not have to be adhered to strictly. The end game is to allow your trees to go no higher than you can reach while standing on the ground. If you are a shorter person or in a wheelchair go with a smaller relative size. Either way you get to the proper maintainable size in three years.

The fact that someone lost a tree (no matter how experienced) by cutting it at the knee should not give anyone pause. How many BYOC trees have they done successfully? I've done 20+ trees this way and have had no problems. Dave Wilson would not be in business if this didn't work, so assume many thousands have been done successfully by others.

There are more than likely other circumstances that lead to failure. Maybe the graft wasn't very good, or maybe the rootstock was dead too or had been allowed to dominate before the graft took hold/or had a chance to sprout. How often do we see rootstocks sprouting from a 2" to 3" nub? How often have you top worked a large diameter tree to find a sprout coming from way below seeming without rhyme or reason? A 15" to 2' trunk should be fine if all other variables are normal. Trees do have a will to live. :)

The reason to not buy dwarfs is that we can have a vigorous and healthy tree and manage the size by pruning. What good is a low vigor, unhealthy, unproductive or dead tree of perfect height?

Here is a link that might be useful: What Is Backyard Orchard Culture?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 11:17AM
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