Cleveland Pear - Pruning for a central leader - Pics

fatlard(Z5 CHICAGO)February 24, 2008

Hello all,

I have a cleveland pear planted last fall.

I was wondering if I should prune for a central leader in cleveland pears. Right now it seems like there are 2.. possible 3 leaders. There are two leaders one the left and one the right. Then these leaders fork out to two leaders each. Any sugguestions. Cut left or right and then right or left on the remaining leader

Here is the pic. Click on it to enlarge. Then all sizes for even bigger sizes.

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shortleaf2002(5b 6a KCMO, USA)

I wouldn't. I think 'Cleveland Pears' are supposed to have a full bushy flowering effect going on. Now, if its jutting out the side I'd say off with it. Also, if it appears to have a weakening effect that will even more-so give it even weaker crotch angles that might speed up its falling apart and self destruction in a few years, that is also something to consider. I think with the 'Bradford Pears' the inherently narrow, sharp, weak, crotch angles of the main branches that come out from the trunk are better if they are thinned out to reduce weight of ice, snow, wind, and just time in general makes those trees fall apart eventually.
The leaves hang on longer than normal and the weight of snow one year can finish a Bradford Pear tree off also.
And, I have 2 in my yard! I wanted them to have an alternating flowering effect with my Redbuds some year, thats the plan anyway. My choice was kinda limited then when I was shopping around for cheap, whitish-flowering trees to bloom at the same time roughly as the Redbuds.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 3:40AM
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fatlard(Z5 CHICAGO)

Thanks for your suggestion. I will leave it alone.

Do you see any bad crotches in my tree?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 11:21AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

This tree, like most other trees, will be stronger and less likely to fail from snow or wind loads if it has a central leader. The lack of a single leader will result in forked leaders that are more prone to failure.

Two common methods for ensuring a central leader are pruning and tying limbs down. A limb growing at a greater angle to the trunk is less likely to outgrow the leader. In other words, if the branch has a good crotch angle and doesn't curve sharply upwards, it is much less likely to have dominance over the leader. Gently tying down side branches to improved crotch angles and reduce the chances of multiple leaders is common practice. You should be able to find many references on the web with a few google searches. There are various methods and tools (i.e. branch spreaders) used for this. You could also check previous posts on the fruit forum for advise about how to accomplish this.

Good crotch angles are usually between about 45 to 60 degrees. Different types of trees will tend to have different ranges of crotch angles. But the sharper the angle, the more likely the branch is to fail with loading. Correcting the branch structure is MUCH easier if you tackle the problem when the tree is young.

Cleveland Pears are supposed to be somewhat better about breaking apart than the Bradford Pear, but proper pruning and possibly thinning would likely greatly benefit these trees as they grow. In addition to poor branch angles, one huge problem with Bradfords is that they grow so many limbs in such a small area that they cannot build up enough wood around the branch base to support the weight. Eventually, the tree pops itself apart. Though Clevelands may be better about this, I would still keep an eye out for this type of behavior and eliminate problems before they occur.

I cannot tell much about your picture. It is too dark for me to really see what's going on, but you can tell if there are narrow crotch angles by checking to see if the angle between the branch and the trunk is less than 45 degrees. Angles less than 35 degrees are definitely not acceptable.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 4:01PM
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Brandon7 gave very good instructions. It is easy for those of us in USDA zones warmer than 6a to understand the potential limb failure risks presented by trees such as so many of the ornamental pear cultivars tend to naturally develop.

In zone 5 these ornamental pears most likely grow much slower and take quite a bit longer before they naturally begin to display branch failures due to an owner not selecting the best cultivar, and by not following the advice Brandon7 offered.

Even if this slower growth theory of mine proves true in your area, I still think you should consider implementing the good advice Brandon7 offered.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 12:21PM
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