Return to the Fruit & Orchards Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Inducing a branch

Posted by glenn_russell 6b, RI (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 6, 10 at 14:37

Hi All-
I suspect that this will be an easy case where you just point me to a nice link...

I dormant-topped all 5 apple whips that I planted last year to 42' in preparation for my open vase trees. With such a warm spring, I'm already seeing some leaf buds push which I suspect will become new shoots/laterals for my vase. But, my question is... if I don't get enough new shoots to form a vase (I'm hoping for 4 on each tree), how do I go about inducing one? I seem to remember a procedure where you score the bark down to the cambium just below a leaf bud, or something like that? If so, what would be the right time of year for me to do this? (Something showing me how long/deep the cut would be would be nice too.)

I guess I also want to ask how close together should I aim to get these new laterals? Ideally, they'd all be at the same level, but that's probably not possible/practical/and perhaps not best for the tree? Maybe it's just aesthetics anyway?

Thanks in advance,
-Glenn

P.S. Attended my first grafting class last night. Grafted a Goldrush on P2 (like M9) rootstock. Time will tell if my clumsy hands were good enough!


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Inducing a branch

You cut above a bud or a node (dormant bud), not below it. You are interupting plant hormone from shoots above keeping bud dormant below. A half inch deep at most, couple inches wide, I guess. That's what I do.

I do it at first growth and it works like a charm.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Thanks Harvestman... above the bud, not below... got it.
But, as for 1/2" deep and a couple inches wide... these whips were only planted last year, so the diameter at the point at which I topped them is only probably 5/8-3/4". Thanks,
-Glenn


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Yeah, when I first tried it I didn't have specific instructions but played it by feel. I'm not sure exactly how deep I go- just beneath the green of the cambium and the width would vary depending on the diameter of the wood, of course. For what your talking about just a knick would probably be adequate.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Yeah I think "Nick" is the term for it as well.

I don't recall -- I think you can nick most any fruit trees, like stones/pomes/etc, correct?


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

its called notching. Glen here is a vid on it. about 1 min in you will see how he does it on whips.

http://www.youtube.com/user/jmcext#p/u/19/QZyE1QG6hRg


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Thanks everyone! Great video Joe... I figured I had the procedure down, but it's always good to actually see someone do it. If a picture is worth 1000 words, a video is worth 10,000. I'm going to do some notching today. Thanks again,
-Glenn


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Call me Mr. paranoid Glenn but, make sure your cutting device is surface disinfected first. If you are really paranoid, disinfect between cuts, who knows what dangers lurk out there.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

4 decades of nothcing, pruning, cutting out black knot without disinfectants- no regrets.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

>>> 4 decades of nothcing, pruning, cutting out black knot without disinfectants- no regrets.

Woah -- say that again? I trust your experience in this forum harvestman. But can you share on that a bit further?


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

My only knowledge of the subject is from texts, but nicking is defined as cutting the wedge below the bud and notching is above. But it's used interchangeably in the below text I just reviewed. Is it only referred to as notching, regardless of location/purpose, in modern industry usage?

Glenn_russell. I doubt this will help greatly, but take it as you will. Here is relevant text from an often recommended book on pruning and training. The picture is pretty basic showing a wedge removal (two adjoining crescent cuts) and overall it's not that impressive. /shrug

In order to build up a good thick trunk, whips are often cut back in their first year.
... [you already know this part] ...
When a whip is cutback, the natural result is for the upper buds to develop into vigorous upright shoots, competing to become the new leader. These are not ideal for branches because they will be growing at a narrow V angle to the stem and may split when mature and heavy. Fruit growers use nicking to counteract this undesirable growth habit. Nicking below the two topmost buds once the leader is cut back allows only weak growth from them. Lower buds grow strongly to compensate, and at wide angles, because of shading by the stub of stems above them. Any growth that does develop from the two top buds can be pinched back. The stub can be cut back to just above the topmost lateral the following winter.

Notching -- nicking above the bud -- can be used to encourage a shoot to break where it is needed. For example to fill a gap in a fan. If shoots are not wanted in a particular place, an alternative to nicking is to keep pinching back to two leaves any growth that develops.

--- Page 107, Apple Training. American Horticultural Society Pruning & Training (Hardcover)


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Hi guys-
Thanks for all the info. I did my notching/nicking above the buds yesterday. Can't wait to see the results!
-Glenn


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Does this mean this technique only works when the trees are young? My original Granny Smith was bought from a local nursery and really wasn't trained (until I got it, and I did the best I could with it). I'd like to add a couple branches to it. But, on an older tree like that, there really aren't nodes on the central leader anymore. This technique wouldn't work when there aren't any nodes, right? -Glenn


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

It's pretty reliable for 2 and 3 year old wood but I'm not sure about really older wood than that although I should be able to get back to you in a couple of months. I have a customer who wants me to change some trees that I trained to CT shape into a low open center and I used the method on several trees. We'll see.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Well, I had some grafts that took OK but weren't really moving forward, so I "nocked" or "nicked" or nick-nock-paddywocked just above 'em and I'll see if they show a little extra vigor.

Or mebbe I killed the whole damn tree, I don't know anything anymore. We'll see.

:-)M


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Yeah, maybe I'll go out and put a notch in my older Granny Smith as well, just to see if it will work. Looking forward to the report-backs! Thanks again guys,
-Glenn


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

After giving it some thought, I'm pretty sure this will work on apples of any age if trees still have vigor. You are merely tricking the tree into "thinking" that the branch has broken off and apples will usually send out new shoots below a large broken branch. I'm definately going to research this further on a few of the trees I mange.

As far as elaborating on my lack of disinfectants, I'm generally susicious of long held hort beliefs and I just hate doing more work than absolutely necessary to get the results I want.

I've never sterilized grafting tools or worried too much about getting real clean cuts but I still get a high take percentage.

I cut out so much black knot that I'm just in the habit of removing it whenever I see it. Instead of disinfeccting, I spray surgery wounds with chlorathalanil on seriously infected trees (those goddam Methelys).

As far as disinfecting the kinds of cuts we're discussing here, these are much less intrusive than removing a large scaffold and that is done all the time without pruning compounds or disinfectants.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Glenn: don't forget to wash your hands after using the bathroom too :)


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Hahhahahah. -G


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Resurrecting this thread to post observations on nicking:

My Liberty is nearing 15 years old now and has a lot of grafts of different varieties on it. I've always been confused by the fact that some of the grafts seem to take perfectly well but don't thrive. So after reading here I tried it on sluggish ones, and on two grafts which had taken last year but appeared dead this spring. (Costs nothing to try and I can always remove them later.)

The results, after just over a week, were dramatic. Some of this year's grafts which hadn't taken but hadn't dried out now show signs of life; a couple of grafts that had taken last year but not put on much growth have shot out, and at least one of last year's grafts that I was about to give up on may be coming back. So it appears to have made a difference; we'll see. The scars are healing quickly.

It has been an unusually wet, cool spring for us. Things might have been different in different conditions. But this time at least it looks like success.

Thanks to all who brought it up and provided links and information.

:-)M


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Thanks for sharing Mark. Now that you mention it, I do have some sluggish branches that are in a perfect location to become a lateral of my vase. I think I'll go put a nick above them. Thanks,
-Glenn


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Yeah, me too. I hadn't thought of using the technique to juice up listless grafts.

Old trees I scored this spring had about 40% takes of new shoots under wounds. That was probably cutting into 10 year wood. I did it while trees were still dormant but just about to bud out so I might have gotten a higher percentage if I'd done it a couple of weeks later.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Can this procedure be done with a utility knife or do I need something wider like a hacksaw blade to better separate the cambium layer?


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

For me, I used a small hand-held hack (not a traditional hack saw) simply because I had it. See pic below. It worked great.
-Glenn

http://www.roadstersound.com/installation/images/small_hacksaw.JPG


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Glenn I don't have a hacksaw so if I were to simply use what I have it would be a utility knife. Am I better off with a little $ 3.99 hacksaw like the one in the picture you posted?


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

The tree doesn't care how the cambium was severed, you can do it just as well with a knife- just takes a bit more time.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

thisisme-
Right. What Harvestman said.
I never thought of my little saw as a pruning tool, but it worked great, so I thought I'd mention it. I'm sure you're knife will be fine. Good luck,
-Glenn


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 17, 10 at 10:32

As long as the trunk is not too big around, I use my pruning shears to notch above a bud I want to start. I try to keep them in my pocket when out in the orchard since it seems like there is always something that needs pruned.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Thanks for the clarification guys. Most of my trees are well branched but there are a couple apple trees and a Lapins cherry I will be trying this on.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

I'm just amazed by how useful this thread is turning out to be. It would never have occurred to me to nick a branch this way so I'm glad it was pointed out.

I can see this being very useful when wrestling with pears (and some apples too, for that matter) when they decide go vertical on you.

As for what to cut with so far I've just used my pocket knife.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Thanks guys, I ended up using a fine tooth finish saw on 1 Pear and 2 Apple trees today. I almost cut into my Lapins but decided to give whats there another month and see what they do.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

It works!!! It works!!! It works!!! It works!!!

Thank you everyone.

I was a little worried the 100+ degree temps every day would slow or even prevent the new growth. I was looking out there today though and the proof is in the pudding. A lot of the buds have swollen a little but none have opened or started new growth except for the ones I scored above with my handy fine toothed saw.

Look out world I have a new tool and I know how to use it!


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

I had mixed results in scoring old wood this year. I did the scoring earlier than I'd like- just as buds were swelling while it's supposed to be done at around petal fall. Only about 30% of scores produced branches in what must have been at least 10 year old wood. In 2 or 3 year old wood I get much better results even when done at this time.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Can nicking/notching be done on peach trees as well as on apples? Would like to stimulate some low buds to produce wide-angled framework branches and so am thinking of cutting the leader above two higher buds, then notching those so they are weakened and the lower buds respond more strongly, with wider angled growth. Will eventually remove the upper stem.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 21, 11 at 2:19

Eric,

As long as the peach buds are alive, notching above them stimulates growth.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Funny I've been reviewing this exact topic and I recall Olpea and/or others saying there is often trouble activating peach buds on older wood (~ 1" diameter) even when the bud looks to be active (i.e. alive). Even more difficult for dormant buds.

Eric: If you will end up removing the stem, why no de-bud just the two upper buds? Or am I not visualizing it correctly?


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 21, 11 at 12:23

Cebury,

I have been foremost in pointing out peach trees are different from other fruit trees when it comes to new shoot development, yet I do recommend notching above peach buds (as with buds from other fruit trees) to stimulate growth.

Allow me to clarify my response.

Peach trees are different in that they are very reluctant to sprout adventitious buds. So that someone new won't have to look that word up, what it basically means is that apples, pears, tart cherries, etc. will easily sprout new shoots even where there wasn't a live bud. They will sprout a shoot simply out of bark. When they are young, it's not uncommon for them to sprout several shoots out of smooth bark.

Peaches are different. Peaches rarely sprout a shoot out of bark. Severely pruned peach trees that are suddenly opened up to sunlight will sprout shoots from bark, but it's just that they are much less willing to do so than other fruit trees. It requires a pretty good shock to make them do it. And even after a shock, they do it less than other fruit trees.

Regarding 1"+ diameter peach trees, I have found when I receive larger peach trees from a nursery, I have extreme difficulty getting the lower buds to sprout (to induce lower scaffolds). I think in many times the lower buds are dead. It's for this reason, for the last few years, I've requested peach trees to be 1/2" or less. It's common for commercial growers around here to order smaller peach trees for that reason. Even when trimming the tree back, the lower buds just sit there on larger diameter trees.

Regarding my comment in the post above, if I can see peach buds starting to sprout, by notching above them, I've found it stimulates their growth. Apparently, once the bud is active, the regular principles of hormone physiology hold true. That is, blocking the auxins from the upper shoots stimulates growth of the lower active buds.

So I would say one would benefit actively sprouting peach buds by notching above them. I would also still say peach buds can be very different from other fruit trees, in that they won't readily form adventitious buds, and lower buds on larger caliper trees frequently just sit there and do nothing. They seem to be dead.

I've got some older peach trees, that I failed to grow lower scaffolds. I've given up trying to force lower scaffolds on these trees. There are a couple of these trees I like, so last summer I T-budded some seedlings to try to make new trees. My intention is to replace the older trees w/ ones that have lower scaffolds.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Thanks Olpea. That concisely sums up what it took me an hour of searching and sifting through Gardenweb's older threads on trunk pruning, lower branching and for peach trees specifically.

Not sure if you think so, but it wasn't my intent that the previous post denounce your info suggesting you contradicted yourself. On my re-read it seemed so since I did not put a period after the first independent clause (after the word "topic"). Interesting how the small decision to make a compound sentence can open up new interpretations.

Those folks above had great experience with testing nicks/nocks last year, I guess I'm the only one out of luck here. None of mine worked, that is, they didn't sprout a branch from what appeared to be a live bud. I did it in several places on a young trunk for several cherries and a peach and apple -- nothing. The scar is still there, but no buds activated. It felt like I was deep enough into cambium but I'll try again this year. Maybe it was timing, also.

Now that I think about it, the vitality of all my cherries grinded to a halt. I think due to hot summer and the micro-climate with excessive heat even though it had only morning sun. My notes have glaring remarks to forgo shade cloth but find entirely cooler spots for the young container cherries and the apples on dwarf stock next year. The pears on 333 had no problem with the excessive sun. Root temps on above were all probably fine.

Chris


 o
RE: eric

Eric,

>>> If you will end up removing the stem, why no de-bud just the two upper buds?
I just realized you are probably following the procedure recommended in above post by the American Hort Society Pruning and Training book. You think I'd catch that one...

I had the de-budding method at my mind's forefront since I just read about it.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

Thank you for the helpful answers. I'm doing a four-in-one-hole multiplanting, so decided to do a notching experiment -- I notched 2 trees and left the other two alone. I am skeptical that the buds I notched are still viable. The trunks are nearly an inch. But I have decent framework laterals below where I headed the leader and if the lower buds don't work out I'll still be in good shape, just a little higher than I would have preferred.

Since there are so many folks experienced with stimulating growth in this way on this thread, I'd like to ask a different, but related question.

I have some mature pittosporum tennufolium shrubs that I am using as a screen. They were 20 feet high, recently pruned back to 15 feet or so. I would very much like to increase the density of the screen. Looking at the branches, I see several places where there are longer laterals -- some young, some older wood -- with lots of buds. Can I notch these branches to force growth at the buds? I realize that I could prune further -- I'm wondering if notching is a way to gain new growth where I want it without giving up the growth further out on the branches. In theory it should work, but I have no idea whether broad-leafed evergreens have the same auxin mechanism as budding fruit trees.


 o
RE: Inducing a branch

I'm digging up an old post, need some pruning advise. I am just about to take delivery of 15 dwarf rootstock apple trees, the grower tells me they are basically whips, I would like to try the tall spindle pruning method so I need to induce lots of branches. The main idea in the tall spindle method is to not head the central leader.

It appears that heading the whip will set back fruit production at least a year, I am not a very patient fellow, is there a way to promote enough branching by the notching (scoring) or any other method without having to head the whip?


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Fruit & Orchards Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here