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Pruning whips

Posted by EggieRowe 7b (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 10, 13 at 14:25

I have a bunch of new fruit tree whips (2 pears, 2 apples, 1 persimmon, 1 peach, 1 nectarine, 1 2-in-1 plum, 1 2-in-1 cherry, and 1 asian pear). I had to pinch a couple buds off the rootstock of one - guess I had it too close to the soil line. But when they go dormant again I read I'm supposed to cut any branches that formed on the bottom 24" of the whip, so can't I just pinch those buds off now too? I can't find this being addressed anywhere, but wouldn't this direct more energy to the desirable branches from the beginning instead of letting ones grow lower and then pruning them off later?

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RE: Pruning whips

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 10, 13 at 14:35

It does matter a whole lot. But yes if you don't want branches down there just knock them off now. I like low branches to start because I'm holding the trees down to about 7ft. The lower they start the easier it is to get low renewal wood several years down the road.

RE: Pruning whips

Thanks! I have some buds as close as 6" from the ground and there's no way I want to keep those. Do you think 24" is a good general rule? Anything below that height & my dogs will beat me to all the fruit.

RE: Pruning whips

Fruitnut, do you work your lowest branches up as the years go by? As has been discussed here before, it can be a function of your mowing habits and critter pressure. I'm still trying to find that compromise on tree height, mowing, critters, yield.


RE: Pruning whips

If you have squirrels around you may be screwed by starting a low spreading tree. It is possible to make climbing a 4 to 5' straight trunk very difficult for a squirrel but a low spreading tree is harder to defend because squirrels routinely jump over 4' from the ground. Coons and possums only require about 3' of straight trunk before first branches.

With 3in1 type trees you can't use the baffle method anyway. The scaffolds have already been selected for you.

To create a long trunk you remove only branches more than about a third the diameter of the trunk at point of attachment. For stone fruit and less vigorous apples, make it a half. Leave all other branches until trees are ready to crop. don't allow the central leader of apples or pears to spur up and bear heavy fruit until the tree reaches desired height.

Once trees are bearing you can choose 3 or 4 scaffolds to be your permanent scaffolds on an open center tree and gradually remove all other branches that crowd them.

For a central leader tree you will probably keep two tiers of scaffold branches, usually 3 permanent ones at the base and 4 branches, starting about 4' up from the first tier, that you cycle out periodically. This means removing branches that become more than half the diameter of the trunk at the point of attachment. Branches at the top of the tree gradually outgrow branches below and shade the lower tier or become excessively vegetative from over pruning to keep the Christmas tree shape.

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