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Keeping central leaders vertical on young trees when bearing fruit

 
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To keep my trees upright, I use the "standford-tie" method (two or three T-posts at least 20" from the tree, with loose bracing holding the tree, but still letting it move in the wind).
Some of my trees, however, are bending a little (reaching towards the sun, it seems, away from a shade-casting treeline 15-20 ft behind them).

Even more dramatically, I have a young apple tree - actually, two separate trees twisted together (each with separate roots) I got from a local nursery. This is the first year one of the two trees are bearing fruit, and it's causing the whole tree to bend over lopsidedly.
I'm not *too* worried about the side branches, but surely this isn't good for the central-leader...

What do you do to help keep a young tree properly vertical, when it's over 5 ft tall and bearing fruit?
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I forget the name of the man that has a permaculture you-pick-em orchard.  He has been talked about on this site and has a video outlining his methods.  He bends the tops over purposely in order to get the trees to fruit earlier, so it seems it doesn't harm them.
 
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Trace Oswald wrote:I forget the name of the man that has a permaculture you-pick-em orchard.



Are you thinking of Stefan Sobkowiak at Miracle Farms Trace?
 
Trace Oswald
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Greg Martin wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:I forget the name of the man that has a permaculture you-pick-em orchard.



Are you thinking of Stefan Sobkowiak at Miracle Farms Trace?



Exactly, thank you.  I have his DVD and really enjoyed it, but I couldn't remember his name.
 
Jamin Grey
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Trace Oswald wrote:I forget the name of the man that has a permaculture you-pick-em orchard.  He has been talked about on this site and has a video outlining his methods.  He bends the tops over purposely in order to get the trees to fruit earlier, so it seems it doesn't harm them.



Thank you for revealing him to me; I just now watched several of his youtube videos, but couldn't find any details on bending over the central leader - is there a specific video you are thinking of?
 
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Jamin Grey wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:I forget the name of the man that has a permaculture you-pick-em orchard.  He has been talked about on this site and has a video outlining his methods.  He bends the tops over purposely in order to get the trees to fruit earlier, so it seems it doesn't harm them.



Thank you for revealing him to me; I just now watched several of his youtube videos, but couldn't find any details on bending over the central leader - is there a specific video you are thinking of?



I don't know if it is on a YouTube video, but he talks about it on his permaculture orchard DVD.
 
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Looking at the tree I would say that the only branchs that should be being pulled down by the fruit is the lower left and the leader (and I would personally remove all but one fruit from that ) It looks more to me as if that is the growth style of that tree and that it is struggling for light. the branches seem weak and the new shoots on the right hand side look elongated.  cannot see why the top would be leaning like that with no fruit on it. if it were being pulled by the other leader I would expect it to be developing a bend where it was trying to correct itself.

You say that that "tree" is two trees? I wouldn't let it produce more than one fruit per branch up to 3 or 4 for such a small tree especially as it's only half the size it appears!
 
Jamin Grey
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Skandi Rogers wrote:Looking at the tree I would say that the only branchs that should be being pulled down by the fruit is the lower left and the leader (and I would personally remove all but one fruit from that )


This is the first year any of my trees produced, and I didn't thin any of the fruit, just to get a 'baseline' idea of the trees. Next year, I'll thin for sure! But I wanted to see how well it'd do on it's own.

It looks more to me as if that is the growth style of that tree and that it is struggling for light. the branches seem weak and the new shoots on the right hand side look elongated.



Yea, I think you hit it on the head. It gets over-shaded somewhat from the treeline it's planted infront of. Thankfully, not as badly as this photo makes it look - this was taken earlier in the morning, and it gets more sun in the evening. Still, fairly bad shading here.

I wouldn't let it produce more than one fruit per branch up to 3 or 4 for such a small tree especially as it's only half the size it appears!


Thank you, I'll keep that in mind for next year! Since it's only two months or less until their harvest date, I'll leave them on until then.
It's producing roughly a dozen: about 6 on the central leader, 6 on the side branch, and are somewhat small because of the lack of thinning.

cannot see why the top would be leaning like that with no fruit on it. if it were being pulled by the other leader I would expect it to be developing a bend where it was trying to correct itself.


It's definitely is getting pulled over by the other - it's two trees twisted together, and if one is leaning, it pulls the other with it. It's only been doing it for a few months, due to the weight of the apples.
When I lift up the branches that are weighting it down, the other non-weighted branch naturally corrects its lean by about 60% or more. I'm sure you're right that the other 30-40% is it reaching towards light.

This is the only "twisted" tree (2-in-1), all my other trees are "normal" only one tree per spot. I got on sale IIRC, at a local nursery (actually, I apparently recorded in my Excel spreadsheet that it was bought from Menards).

It was planted Fall of 2017, so it's been nearly exactly two years in the ground. It's small enough I could theoretically transplant it early next spring when still dormant...
I have about five apple trees in this area, semi-shaded like that (the rest of my trees properly get full sun). The other four are even younger, and smaller, and thus easier to transplant if I need to do that. I'd have to think carefully about where to move them to, though. If it's just a matter of reduced production, I'm fine with that, but if it's a necessity that they get more sun...

I'll re-evaluate the five tomorrow, including this 2-in-1 tree, and measure the number of hours of direct sunlight they actually get - since Missouri sun is intense, many plants actually need less sun here, and some "Full sun" plants actually do fine in "part shade" here, but it's likely getting way too much shade.

Another possibility is cutting back the overhanging branches of the treeline - that would be my preferred option, but they are about twenty to thirty feet off the ground. =(...
I'll see what I can thin with my pole-saw, but likely not much.
 
Jamin Grey
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After examining (at night), it appears only three of the five of getting blocked by shade, and it's all coming from one large 15 foot long tree branch that's overhanging them by.
Most other trees in the treeline don't overhang that dramatically, and are slightly farther back in the treeline. Thankfully, the giant tree-branch isn't all that thick - 8" diameter, maybe even 7" - it's just very long, fairly horizontal, and with a decent amount of leaves blocking the sunlight.

I think I can cut that branch down - it's pretty high up, but I might be able to ease it down gently from it's low point - I may lose or damage one of my apple trees in the process, if the huge branch falls on it, but overall it'll greatly improve sunlight.

Also, what I noticed was that they were getting less light because of the height of the sun. When I planted them - spring or fall, depending on each apple tree - the sun was lower so I probably likely assumed they were getting enough light when originally choosing the spots. Oops! =P

I'm an newbie, but each year I'm learning a little more.
 
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