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never prune technique of holzer and fukuoka  RSS feed

 
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I wouldn't do such things, new varieties are fun.
 
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    New varieties that are not specially breed are called cider apples.
    I'm not sure about that but it seems possible. There were some great breeds of apple it is worth trying to get good ones. Now i think there is less variety.rose macaskie
 
gardener
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Location: Northern Italy
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I'm reposting this from another discussion, It's even more pertinent here.


I found this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ft0ylk4sU5M

Go to minute 0:21:05

"Do nothing but cutting the unnatural branches" -- which entails learning
which branches are natural and which are not. The video helps.
 
gardener
Posts: 697
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
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I think one thing that needs to be kept in the back of your mind when talking about never prune techniques is that you are trying to undue/alter literally millenia of active human intervention. There's evidence of active fruit crop cultivation as early as 3000 BC with many suggesting much earlier (as early as 6000 BC). Most of our modern tree fruits have not evolved naturally but unnaturally according to human's fickle whims. Trying to change this system is a laudable cause, but one that will take more than just one or two generations of consistent work.

How do we work towards that goal while maximizing the benefits we can reap from the trees in the meantime, that seems to be the real question. Most of us would agree that the least amount of pruning needed the best for both parties (less work for us, less stress for the trees) but the reality of the situation is that our human-centric nature has caused us to create trees that need us to reach their full potential (a potential that we have artificially created).

I have personally and professionally (Cert. Arborist) adopted the following policy towards the trees that I care for. In the area nearest the residence (you could say permaculture zones 1 and into 2) pruning, even regular drastic pruning, is perfectly acceptable as long as you are willing to take on the responsibility that this type of pruning entails. Once a tree has been drastically pruned at a minimum, there will be a number of years of maintenance pruning to ensure that the trees natural responses follow your plan for the tree. More than likely, though, is the fact that you will have to repeatedly prune the tree to maintain your idea of the correct tree - the further from the tree's natural growth path, the more often/more drastically you will have to prune. This is perfectly fine, though, because if you are actively pruning your trees, you're paying attention to them and can begin to understand their natural responses. This helps give you the knowledge you need for the rest of the trees on your property (PC zones 3+). This is where the "art" of understanding trees comes from - constant exposure to them in various stages with varied stress factors. While it may seem that trees can act and react erratically, it is more often the case that the cause of the unexpected behavior was simply something simple we didn't account for or didn't fully understand.

It's the outer areas of your property, the ones you will be interacting with less, that are best suited for the transition to a more natural system. In this area we eliminate any preconceived notions of what the tree should be and only prune to eliminate potential hazards to the tree. Help the tree to grow how it wants to, not how you want it to. If you notice year after year the tree keeps sending out shoots in a general direction, encourage this growth by giving it a little room. Most cuts made should be small pre-emptive cuts to help the tree avoid a problem, not to correct a problem. If we pay attention to the trees during their early years and help them establish a good framework, the future work that will be required is greatly diminished. This can also be done with mature trees, but it usually requires a few years of heavier establishment pruning/training to eliminate the results of pruning for a different goal. As we continue to manage these trees, we encourage the trees that show the most natural tendencies toward what we want and eliminate the trees that seem to naturally exhibit traits we do not want. In this way we will encourage a more natural shift towards the traits we desire while eliminating the need for our intervention. This will be a slow process requiring patience and foresight I don't think our society currently has, but I do think it can be done.

The more that the public at large can see the results of these trees being pruned to help them into their natural state the more often this will be the mental image of a "proper" tree versus the monocultured rows of overpruned overworked orchard trees. One of the main things will be convincing society at large that maximum harvested fruit and easiest machine harvesting aren't the final goals we should be striving for. It seems to me that the healthiest trees with the minimum input would be the top goal, with all other goals being secondary.

 
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Location: Western foothills of Maine
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Fred Morgan wrote:One thing that is standard is to prune as soon as you can, the earlier the better. It is much nicer if you can just rub off the bud. I guess you could say that isn't pruning, but I don't know of any forester who would think it isn't. Most of our pruning is done on very young wood, you don't want to be lopping off limbs normally. If you are cutting more than 2 inches, you have waited too long is the conventional wisdom.

One issue with over pruning is waterspouts. It is what you want to avoid. A method of just rubbing off buds would definitely help in that issue.

I am not trying to disagree by the way, but really, if you are training the tree, aren't you pruning? You all have managed to confuse me I think. 



We bought our house a year and half ago. It has a small orchard of semi-dwarf apple and pear trees that are about 20 years old. They were probably pruned once. So I took a pruning class through the cooperative extension. It was held at a commercial orchard. The most memorable part of the class was where we approached the last trees of the class, a couple of gnarled Wolf Rivers. The instructor starts up his chainsaw and says." if you are reviving an old tree you should remove 30% the first year." He takes his chainsaw and hacks away 30%. Then he says, " the second year you remove another 30%" AND then he removed another 30%!

So the first year here I took my hand pruners and loppers to 4 of the twelve trees and just removed any crossed branches that were rubbing. I removed any obvious dead branches. I wanted a little more airflow in the tree because we have more likelyhood for fungal diseases in the wet northeast. But I made a point not to hack too much off. I wanted more light on the interior but I did not get aggressive. Harvest was great. We have the full compliment of diseases and pests at this point but I was able to dry and sauce plenty and our sheep enjoyed them as well. We scythed the grass between the trees for our sheep and pastured the sheep with our portable fence in between the trees.

This year, I took the same approach with the rest of the trees. I found a lot of fireblight on the trees lower in the orchard and concentrated my efforts on these parts of the trees. With the four trees I pruned last year I did cut one or two larger limbs but not much else. My long term plan is to plant guilds under all the trees and fence our sheep between the trees. I just started my first guild this spring.
 
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Location: s w france
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What a great topic! i grow my fruit trees almost without pruning and it is interesting to see what shapes they take on....my garden is only 10 years old so I am curious to see how they will grow in the future.. the apples are dense as are the peaches , they crop well ..I have seen old pear trees growing up in the mountains and they grow very tall and almost slim like.
 
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Tal Frulot wrote: And another thing, you want to get seeds from the tree that hasn't been grafted, because you will get characteristics of rootstock.



No, you won't. The fruit (and thus seed) is of the grafted variety. That's the whole point of grafting.
 
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Location: Colorado
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Travis Philp wrote:

Fred Morgan wrote:

If you want to see how well not pruning works, find an abandoned orchard. There will be almost no fruit.


There is a big difference between completely unpruned fruit trees grown from seed, and abandoned orchard trees as Fukuoka and others have pointed out.



I'd just like to say that it depends on how the orchard is pruned to begin with and perhaps the variety of apple/other tree.
The reason I say this is because, while I have seen many not very happy abandoned orchards, while I was living in New Mexico, I had the chance to pick apples in an orchard that was once pruned but left to grow wild. Instead of pruning the trees to grow up and open, the branches had been trained to grow down, and even cross. Umbrella shape rather than lollipop. Those trees were absolutely loaded. I seriously think we got about 3 boxes off the bottom layer of one or two of the trees alone, within 6-8ft of the ground, maximum. The branches trailed right down to the ground. It was a tiny orchard, but even abandoned it had no need to be bigger, it was astoundingly prolific. Excellent apples, too.
 
pollinator
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not sure where to put this but when i search for grafting this thread comes up.

i listened to pauls podcast the other day where he talks about grafting trees. and id like to share my experiences.

to start it seems that what i know as grafting is not the traditional way. i learned from a bonsai master and this is what i get.

paul said something like the first time you graft, expect low take results. from my experiences the first time i grafted i did 150 trees, 148 took. and i have never even attempted grafting before that. i regularly get 90-99% now on most fruit trees. also i do not pull the knife towards me because i use a bonsai grafting knife. the blade is pulled away from you to make the cut, which is much much safer. i have never been cut with the knife and it is VERY sharp.

that said i do agree with paul on points such as growing trees from seed. as well as a few other points he made.
 
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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Fred, thanks for this highly useful insight:

Fred Morgan wrote:One thing that is standard is to prune as soon as you can, the earlier the better. It is much nicer if you can just rub off the bud. [...] Most of our pruning is done on very young wood, you don't want to be lopping off limbs normally. If you are cutting more than 2 inches, you have waited too long is the conventional wisdom.

One issue with over pruning is waterspouts. It is what you want to avoid. A method of just rubbing off buds would definitely help in that issue.

 
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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I've red that if you bend down a branch, it will stop growing and finaly die. Alternatively, if you bend branch (growing horizontaly) upward, it will grow faster. So by bending branches you can sculpture a tree without having waterspouts issue.
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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Wow, that's interesting. It sounds like it could be a good idea. Hmm. Have you seen it done?

Milan Broz wrote:I've red that if you bend down a branch, it will stop growing and finaly die. Alternatively, if you bend branch (growing horizontaly) upward, it will grow faster. So by bending branches you can sculpture a tree without having waterspouts issue.

 
William James
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Saw this the other day, might be of some interest for people.
http://japanesemaplelovers.com/one-finger-pruning/

William
 
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Aljaz Plankl wrote:

larry korn wrote:That's a good question about seedlings grown from seed and not grafted.  Thoughts anyone?


They produce the same fruit, though there are some things to consider. Trees do cross pollinate, so you are never sure if the fruit will be the same if many apple trees grow together. And another thing, you want to get seeds from the tree that hasn't been grafted, because you will get characteristics of rootstock. Where i live there are many old trees, non grafted and they produce really good fruit. I will save these seeds a lot! Apples, peaches, cherries, pears...



Aljaz...would you be willing to share any of your seeds?
 
gardener
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You have to remember that the cultivars we use are selected for the fruit qualities only. I doubt any effort goes into selection for form.



I worked for a couple years in an orchard which was developing new apple varieties for market. Tremendous effort was put into selection for a wide range of qualities. The shape of the tree was very significant. A variety that could grow wide open with little pruning was highly sought after.

We eliminated apple trees with thorns. We culled trees that grew straight up with little branching. We culled trees with weak branches that drooped to the ground with even a small fruit load. We culled trees with brittle limbs that  break in even gentle winds. We culled trees for lack of vigor. Etc, etc, etc. Fruit quality was something to be evaluated years after heavy selection had been done for agronomic traits.
 
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I wonder whether I can cut back the main central trunk of my self-seeded cherry tree by a few feet. My purpose would be to keep the tree shorter, since it's now 15-20 feet tall.
 
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Esther Platt wrote:I wonder whether I can cut back the main central trunk of my self-seeded cherry tree by a few feet. My purpose would be to keep the tree shorter, since it's now 15-20 feet tall.


If you do, choose the most dry day during the growing season you have available (unless you're in a hot arid climate, then a cool overcast day might be best if one is available)

In moist climates cherries are really bad about picking up fungal issues when they take big pruning in damp conditions
 
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