Apple tree on steriods....need advice

sweetmagnoliameFebruary 26, 2009

In the summer of 2007, many of you gave me excellent advice and links to great resouces for learning to properly prune an apple tree. Thank you! That fall, with a city clean up on the way, I threw out the advice and got out the pruners. If you've been bitten by the pruning bug, you know that a little here leads to a little more there, etc.

Long story short, after removing more than 30% of the tree, at the wrong time of year, last summer I had a fruitless, sucker-producing machine.

Now that I've created the overenergized state, what do I do? The pruning bug is telling me to take off what must be 50 tall, vertical suckers and get back to the great shape I originally created! I expect that's NOT the right thing to do!

HELP!

Thanks,

Mags

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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

after removing more than 30% of the tree, at the wrong time of year, last summer I had a fruitless, sucker-producing machine...Now that I've created the overenergized state, what do I do?

Ouch.

OK, so you have a pruning reaction. Don't rush to correct it all at once, you will do more harm than good.

It's hard to give advice on how to correct a shocked tree without actually being there; I'm an arborist and I usually tell folks not to do anything and I'll be over there to do it, and have them watch me.

Now. Suckers arise from the roots - you almost certainly have a tree grafted onto different rootstock. If there are suckers coming out of the ground or below the graft, cut every one of these out. If this is the case, your tree is in severe shock.

Water sprouts arise out of the trunk or large branches, from latent buds. These all need to be removed, but not all at once. If you have 3-4-5 branches arising around your pruning cuts, this is a sign you removed too much wood; many of these arose from latent buds too, and should be removed, but not all at once.

Bottom line: you should correct this deficiency over two to three years. The strongest water sprouts (tallest) should be removed first, so the wind doesn't break them and expose the tissue to pathogens. Make proper cuts on these as well so callus can form.

Good luck, be patient.

Dan

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 10:16AM
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