Can you prevent suckers?

docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)November 7, 2006

I have a 5-6 year old small orchard which consists of two mixed graft apples, two sweet cherries, a nectarine, and a 4-5 year old Macintosh apple (all dwarfs). Everything has been growing beautifully and I think my pruning has been appropriate. However, this summer I began seeing hundreds of small suckers popping out of the ground within about a 15' radius of the nectarine, so I'm assuming they are from the nectarine. Until now, I've had a strawberry patch underneath the trees, because when they were saplings there was enough sunshine. Because of the strawberrries, I didn't notice the suckers until they were 12-15" tall. I wasn't able to pull them up easily without disturbing the berries, so I just cut them off at the ground. As the season progressed, I gave up even trying to keep up with them (busy with other summer stuff). Now, I've got a small forest of woody suckers that are spreading into my nearby flower bed (I live in a suburb and have a very small garden). How can I prevent this from continuing? Any ideas? Thanks,

Martha

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jellyman(6/7VA)

Martha:

I don't know what kind of rootstock you have on your nectarine tree, but the stone fruits I have grown, including nectarines, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries, sucker very little or not at all, especially by comparison with apple rootstocks, some of which sucker quite a lot.

Unless your nectarine has grown very quickly and vigorously, a 5-6 year old tree should not be able to throw root suckers out to a radius of 15 feet from the trunk. I am sure you are aware of the difference between suckers and seedlings, but are you certain the apparent suckers are not seedlings generated by mummified fruit fallen from the tree? Seeds from fallen fruit can become buried in the ground and practically invisible until they germinate and pop up. The way to tell is to pull up a young plant and see if it is a complete root or if it has a break at the end indicating it came from a larger root below. If these things are seedlings, the solution is to pick up the drops promptly.

To answer your original question: No, there is nothing you can do to eliminate suckers from a tree determined to generate them. About all you can do is to continue to remove them. I tend to favor jerking them out of the ground while they are still relatively small instead of cutting at ground level with a pruning shears. I would consider a tree that generates such numbers of root suckers to be a candidate for removal, unless it produces some pretty good useable fruit on a regular basis. And if it is really the rootstock generating these suckers, you would have some followup work to do in removing all the roots that remain, which could continue to cause problems.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 1:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Don,
Thank-you for your detailed response. I'm sure these are suckers, because when I pull on one I can see the ground raise along the length of the underlying root. I think my problem is the heavy clay soil in my neighborhood. The roots are probably shallow and have extended outward seeking the rich topsoil rather than fighting their way down through the clay. The maples in the back yard have similar shallow roots that sap the moisture from the surface, making it imposible to grow anything else under them. If I leave a pile of compost for a season, I have roots growing upward into the pile so I can't even get at my compost without ripping all kinds of roots. I'm actually glad to have you suggest removing the tree. I'm finding the work of orchard maintenence more chemical intensive than I'm interested in continuing. Now I just have to convince my husband that berries are just as good, so he'll let me tear the whole orchard out. Thanks again.
Martha

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 7:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I have a couple peaches on "bush cherry", a semi-dwarfing rootstock, and they sucker like crazy. I got these trees from Millers several years ago, before I figured out it was not the best rootstock.

Scott

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 10:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
geraldo(Cent. WA z6b)

Spray them with a weak NAA solution.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 11:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
miketrees(WA Australia)

We spray with NAA, a quite strong solution, the suckers don't come back in a hurry.
That suckering away from the tree sounds unusual for nectarines

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 7:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

I have a 5 yr old paw paw that has started to sucker very badly this year. Where would you find the NAA?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 9:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
miketrees(WA Australia)

I only used NAA on stonefruit and apples, I dont know what it will do to pawpaw.
NAA is used in orchards as a growth regulator, so my guess is it would be avaliable in stores that supply them

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 7:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

Thanks Mike:)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 3:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
botanybob(Northern Idaho)

I have not tried this but there is a product called Sucker Stopper which contains NAA. You should be able to order this online if it isn't available locally.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sucker Stopper

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 3:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
daphnexduck(Z8 Tacoma, WA)

I think I'll join Martha and take out my plum trees that are suckering all over. I thinned them last fall, and the suckers are worse than ever this spring.

The trees were on the property when I moved in (cut down to the ground), and although they now put out a lovely flower display in the spring, I haven't seen more than a dozen fruits in 10 years! I think they are some kind of Italian prune, very delicious when they actually appear, but the suckers are driving me crazy.

Thanks for all the info.
Daphne in Tacoma

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 3:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
marknmt

FWIW, our Italian prune, started from a friend's sucker years ago and badly abused, finally died this year, after providing lovely fruit quite faithfully. My wife was glad to see it out of her roses, but we miss that pretty little tree.

We may have successfully grafted a scion from one of its suckers to a Nanking cherry rootstock, in the hopes of having our prune again but without the invasive suckering. The graft took well and has nearly a foot of growth on it now. We'll let you know in a few years how it works out.

:-)M

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 8:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
thisbud4u(San Diego)

Martha, I'm sorry to say, there is no way to stop suckers. There's another one born every minute.
Yours, PTB

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 12:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
journey149(9aFL)

If you have any extra fruit suckers I will take them off
of your hand. Let me know

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 8:21PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Looking for Carmine Jewel Cherries?
I know a lot of people are looking for carmine jewel...
clarkinks
WHO called glyphosate a "probable carcinogen"
More and more studies seem to be coming out against...
canadianplant
new orchard - a few questions
I'd like to start a small orchard on a recently purchased...
Fiona Kerr
Apple Pruning Advice
Can someone tell me if it would be a good idea to prune...
Dan Liptak
First time tree planter, need pruning advice.
I know there some some people that say not to prune...
speedster1
Sponsored Products
Pfaltzgraff Alexa Taupe 16-piece Dinnerware Set
Overstock.com
PLC Lighting Wall Mounted Contemporary Beauty 2-Light Outdoor Silver Wall
$96.30 | Home Depot
Jaipur Grant Design I-O Discus Solid Pattern Ivory /White Indoor/ Outdoor Rug -
$66.00 | Hayneedle
Wood Marquee Letter 'O'
$39.99 | zulily
Naturals Mini Pendant in Matte Black with Yellow Mother Of Pearl
$499.00 | Bellacor
Greens Niko Swing Arm Wall Lamp
Lamps Plus
Eglo Outdoor Lighting. City 1-Light Outdoor Stainless Steel Wall Light
$80.00 | Home Depot
Plushy Area Rug in Cream
$760.99 | Dot & Bo
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™