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corrective pruning ?'s

Posted by windfall_rob vt4 (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 5, 13 at 15:26

When faced with a tree that has been allowed to develop too many scaffolds to close together. Is it better to just thin them down to appropriate spacing/number all at once, or can I reasonably remove the extras in stages in order to not have a drastic reduction in crop.

Specifically I have a reine de reinette apple, that I allowed to get out of hand. In part from inexperience early on, in part due to it's habit, in part from deer damage, but in large part because I was unwilling to sacrifice early crops for long term structure.

The tree has a series of 4-5 scaffold radiating like wheel spokes over about 1.5-2' of trunk, starting just above deer browse height. I have known they should be thinned for several years, but they were not yet encroaching on each other, the tree was just starting to crop...and we all really like this apple.
But now they are branching into each other's space, and I must decide if I remove the extras, sacrificing yield for several seasons while the remainder fill the voids, Or if I can cut back those to be thinned out over several seasons, hoping the remainder back fill as I go and allowing me to keep the yield on the tree up?

I have some questions about dealing with a problem Bartlet pear as's a real mess! but I will save that for another thread.

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RE: corrective pruning ?'s

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 5, 13 at 15:48

It's easier on the tree in stages. Doing it over several years shouldn't cost you hardly any yield at all. The lost foliage is partly compensated for by better light on what foliage is left. So you can leave almost the same number of apples on the tree.

RE: corrective pruning ?'s

would you time the pruning differently....cutting back the "extras" after the first flush of growth?

I hate to have the tree dump energy into a bunch of re-growth shoots on the scaffolds that are on their way out.

I suppose if I limit myself to thinning cuts heading it is less of an issue.

RE: corrective pruning ?'s

First choose your permanent scaffolds, then thin branches that aren't necessary to harvest available light, then remove any wood of temporary branches that is crowding into your permanent ones. No need to sacrifice crop, but all fruiting wood should be well exposed to light for quality fruit.

Having temporary scaffolds can be useful not just to increase crop but as a place to tape or weave upright shoots located on your permanent scaffolds to help create good horizontal secondary wood.

Varieties like Goldrush, Arkansas Black, Honeycrisp, and Roxbury Russet, that are reluctant to create ample secondary wood, benefit from extra scaffolds when they are young.

Summer pruning will be useful for this purpose as well. It's easier to really see the tree then anyway.

RE: corrective pruning ?'s

appreciate the feedback guys

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