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prunning trees at establishment

 
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yes... still speaking about prunning.

i heard and read so many thoughts about prunning and in particular prunning to help a tree in its establishment that i want to go a bit more in depth.

I'm planting now that is almost spring, some potted and some bare root trees, some little, some bigger... so we have plenty of examples!

when you buy a tree, it was generally removed from its bed, stored a while as bare root in wet sand, then eventually planted in soil or potted.
there are also balled and burlapped trees, they get a bit less of stress, because they are removed with an almost decent portion of of their roots (especially capillar roots).

i work in a nursery that provide fruit trees for orchards and other nurseries in Italy.. so i know something, at least i know the point of view of my boss:

"you cut half the tree after planting, so the root will get stronger and bigger, if you don't, aerial growth and flowers will be too much for those poor roots!"

it actually make sense... but maybe i could also remove new flowers or new little brunches as soon as i see them, so i may avoid to destroy the tree... but.. will that be enough to help a tree to root? i believe that a tree that was transplanted in fall/winter had a bit more of time to establish roots...

i must say that also some "don't prune" people would still cut half the tree and let a new trunk to form. first and last prunning.

i still hesitate to do such a heavy action on my little trees

what do you think? what would you do?

 
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Location: Reeds Spring, MO; zone 6b Ozarks
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I'm skeptical that you can get away with skipping the pruning cut with spring planting. Maybe if you live in a really mild climate. But I think the trees benefit from the pruning cut and send up really vigorous new growth in response, so I think the cut is beneficial and I probably wouldn't skip it even if I could.

It would be interesting to do an experiment with two identical trees and see how both methods go.

I always prefer to fall plant if I can, which in our climate is an option and means you can skip that pruning cut. But in a couple of days I'll be planting some things I couldn't get for fall, and I will be heading them back to a good-looking bud.
 
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"you cut half the tree after planting, so the root will get stronger and bigger, if you don't, aerial growth and flowers will be too much for those poor roots!"

it actually make sense... but maybe i could also remove new flowers or new little brunches as soon as i see them, so i may avoid to destroy the tree... but.. will that be enough to help a tree to root? i believe that a tree that was transplanted in fall/winter had a bit more of time to establish roots...

i must say that also some "don't prune" people would still cut half the tree and let a new trunk to form. first and last prunning.

i still hesitate to do such a heavy action on my little trees



We bought a Fuyu persimmon tree in summer 2019. I didn't want to prune it because it was so heavily laden with fruit. Despite my husband's advice to 'whack it back' I left it alone. It dropped most of its fruit. I was worried that it was diseased, but I learned from research that young fruit trees often drop their fruit the first few years until they get strong enough to support a heavy crop. So hubbie was right, and he cut off about the top 50% of the tree. It looked like he killed it!! But it grew back so beautifully last Spring and gave us about 8 of the most juicy, sweet persimmons I've ever eaten.

I've read many times, and have to come know first hand, that the worst way to prune a fruit tree is not to prune it at all. So early each Spring, right before my trees start to leaf out, I go around each tree and cut any branches that are: dead, diseased, damaged, or crossing over other branches.

I fertilize the trees after the pruning. I'm no arborist, but so far my trees seem to be happier for it.
 
Amedeo Nofal
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Thanks for your precious comments!
 
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Location: PA, USA Zone 7a
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Amedeo, I am considering the same questions as you!

I have around 10 bare-root pome and stone fruit trees that I'll be putting into the ground this coming week. I think all of them are 2-3 years old and have already been headed back, and some have a lot of lateral growth already. I think for these trees, I just need to thin out some of the side shoots so that a few can grow really strong (???) because a heading cut has already been made about 8 inches above the highest lateral.

I am skeptical about completely "no-pruning" approach for all fruit trees--I read One-Straw Revolution and Fukuoka grew mostly citrus. I grew a few citrus trees when I lived in CA, and it's true you don't really have to prune save for the occasional dead limbs...glorious! But observing the habit of a lot of crab apples in the southern tier of NY where I grew up, many of them produced fruit in patches in their crown, where the sunlight hit, and only produced a crop every other year because no one was going through the forest thinning the fruit.

Michael Phillips's "The Holistic Orchard" is a great book with a more tradition approach to pruning, and he recommends heading one-year-old nursery whips to 28-42 inches so that the branch structure will begin at 6-8 inches below the heading height--scaffold branches will be about 3 feet above the ground. I just watched Stefan Sobkowiak and "The Permaculture Orchard," and when he's grafting, he snips the scion so it only has about 3 buds initially. He grows on dwarf stock and takes the "spindle" approach, training the laterals to grow downward as the tree grows (this alters hormones and incites the tree to put more energy into producing fruit rather than growing taller)...when the tree is young, he choses which laterals grow, snips the little ones that need to go, and that's it for pruning forever!

I helped my dad grow our little apple/peach/pear orchard growing up, but I still feel like I have no idea what the heck I'm doing sometimes, so I think I'm going to try a few different methods instead of sticking to just one :) And I highly recommend the video "Ther Permaculture Orchard"--it's about 2 hours long and packed with really great ideas and Sobkowiak is great!
 
Amedeo Nofal
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I watched the film last week, I'd like to buy his pruning course, and look for somebody to share it
 
pollinator
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Before you chop off your tree watch this video.  

and this one too.  

Removing buds makes more sense then chopping a tree at the top unless you do it as a modified central leader.
 
Erin Vaganos
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Amedeo Nofal wrote:I watched the film last week, I'd like to buy his pruning course, and look for somebody to share it



I didn't even know he offered a pruning course! I've been watching his videos on Youtube, which have been very helpful and informative--I plan on experimenting with over-grafting on a couple of old crabapple trees. I am going to check out what he offers in his class...
 
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