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Spacers for training tree limbs?

 
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Hello,
So, I'm interested to know what folks use with respect to materials and technique for spacing tree limbs from the trunk at a higher angle. The intention for this is that I've been told this will establish scaffold limbs which are less susceptible to breaking from the weight of fruit. Most of the limbs are at about a 45° angle from the trunk.

I've seen pics of people using toothpicks for this on smaller trees with smaller limbs, however, it seems a bit brittle for the size of the limbs on the tree that I am trying to do this with...they are about 1/4" to 2/3" caliper.

I tried using some woodchips from mulch, but got turned off when I saw that the edges on the chips were thin/sharp enough that they were scratching into the tree limbs. I felt this would encourage diseases by having an open wound on the tree. *I should have taken pictures to share*

Is there something easy to use rather than searching for rounded off woodchips, etc?

I appreciate any advice.

Thanks!
 
steward
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Some folks use clothespins. You can buy "limb spreaders" shaped like a bow tie too. Or use a string and peg to the ground.
 
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Location: Orgyen, zone 8
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Ann has some good suggestions, I've used clothespins with good results. I've also used bamboo sticks with slots cut into the ends. You can put a thin layer of duct tape over the slots for a smoother fit so the bamboo sticks won't scratch your trees.
 
Jp Learn
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Thank you Ann and M.K.
 
gardener
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when pruning a vigorous fruit tree I'll take the whips I've cut and twist two of them together and use the forked ends this makes to spread branches away from each other or the trunk. I love it because it's quick, easy and free!
 
pollinator
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I like the idea of a string to a peg in the ground. Hanging a rock can also work.
 
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Location: SE Pennsylvania, USA
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I use dowels cut to length (usually 6-8"), pound a nail in each end, and cut the head off the nail.

Haven't had any issue with pathogens and they don't move until I want them to. Just be careful not to spread too far, I've broken branches.

I also tie rocks to clothespins with thin wire and hang those on branches where limb spreaders won't cut it.
 
Jp Learn
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Thanks again everyone. Kelby, why the nail?
 
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