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Beth Mouse
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The Permaculture Orchard DVD talks about using wire to train fruit tree brances to bend down and stay angled down close to trunk and ground.  My husband, whom is no expert in fruit tree care and nor am I,  says this is the first he has heard of it and that he has never seen this in orchards or anywhere around here (Idaho).  He wonders why more people aren't doing it if it is the better way I guess.  Stefan on the DVD mentions that 2 French researchers he talked to recommended it.  I told him I would research and ask more about whether this method is truly better than just pruning and if any of you does this.

Thanks,
Mudwelly Girl 
 
Deb Rebel
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I use wire on bonsai, which is the purposeful extreme dwarfing and training a tree to be a growing work of art.

Doing espalier I will use a wrap wire to pull the branch along the place it is supposed to be. And adjust it frequently as it needs.

Tieing off stuff to a concrete block to pull it down, I use something less likely to cut the branch/bark.
 
Jim Fry
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Location: Stone Garden Farm Richfield Twp., Ohio
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If you use wire, you need to be well organized and thoughtful. You need to remember to be sure to remove it/adjust it every so often. If you wrap wire or plastic string around a branch or trunk and the tree grows around it, it could kill the branch or tree. I (often being far too busy and preoccupied with too many things to do) prefer to use hay baling twine that will eventually rot and fall away. Then I don't hurt my trees and bushes.
 
Deb Rebel
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Make sure you're getting JUTE twine as the plastic will never rot.

That is the secret to the bonsai as well, having to readjust the wires frequently.
 
Marco Banks
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It makes a lot of sense.  I've trained many of my fruit trees this way.  I use a poly cord instead of wire, and tie the branches to bricks and concrete blocks. 

When you think how much energy a tree uses to grow that branch, to lop it off because it's not in the right place is a tremendous waste.  I will regularly pull a branch 50, 60, 70 degrees or more to put it in the place where I want it to grow.  It doesn't hurt the tree or the branch and within a year or so, you can remove the rope and the branch stays put.

Our orchard has about 50 fruit trees, and I use this technique with apples, stone fruits, pears, almonds, mango, guava and a few others. I don't do it with citrus, avocados, figs . . . you don't really prune those anyway . . . you just kind of shape them from time to time.  I have four fruit trees that border the brick patio next to my swimming pool—an apricot, a persimmon, a cherimoya and a pomegranate.  They are on the east side of the pool, which means that the afternoon sunlight bounces off the pool and hits the west side of the trees.  As a result, they grow twice as fast on that side (the west side) as they do on the non-pool side.  I also think that the micro climate of warm bricks in the evening cause the branches that lean over the top of them to continue to grow late into the evening when the branches on the east side have gone to sleep.  The branches on the west grow twice as fast, they lean toward the pool, and the foliage is much much thicker on that side of the tree.  So I've regularly tied a rope to the tree to continue to pull the main leader vertical (rather than leaning toward the pool) and I tie ropes to the branches on the side (north and south sides of the tree) to yank them back from turning toward the pool.  Its a lot of work, but it keeps the trees balanced and growing straight.  It also eliminates about half the pruning that I'd have to do on the west side of those trees.  Hopefully, once the trees are mature and not getting any taller, I won't have to do this so much.  For my plum and pluot trees, I've pretty much taken all the ropes off --- the structure looks fantastic.

I don't use wire as it could cut into the cambium layer of the branches and it doesn't feel right.  Just my preference.

I use a piece of cloth to loop around the branch, and then I tie the rope to the cloth.  That way the rope doesn't hurt the bark or make an indent on the branch if it gets too tight. 

Be careful not to pull directly down on a branch that has a narrow crotch against the main trunk of the tree.  You'll split it right off.  I've done this more than once.  Once a branch is a couple of years old, it's tough to get them to go the direction you want it to go.  Best to do it on one year-old wood.

Best of luck.
 
David Livingston
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It's actually quite amazing what you can train a tree to do https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_shaping

David
 
O. Donnelly
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I tie twine to a clothespin. I attach the clothespin to the branch. I tie the other end of the twine to my 6' diameter wire tree cages (you could tie to a brick or a tent stake in the ground if you don't tree cages).

I like this method bc it is easy to attach, remove and adjust the clothespin from the branch. And it's cheap and very easy to install.
 
Jane Reed
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Location: Fair Play, Northetn California
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I believe Stefan does this in order to make his trees more productive. More sunlight gets to the interior when the branches grow at a 45 degree angle. More fruiting wood appears on a branch that is less vertical.

On my very young trees I have filled plastic bottle with water and tied them to branches that I want to be less vertical, using some soft twine.  The amount of water in the bottle will determine how much the branch will bend.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Beth Mouse wrote:The Permaculture Orchard DVD talks about using wire to train fruit tree brances to bend down and stay angled down close to trunk and ground.  My husband, whom is no expert in fruit tree care and nor am I,  says this is the first he has heard of it and that he has never seen this in orchards or anywhere around here (Idaho).  He wonders why more people aren't doing it if it is the better way I guess.  Stefan on the DVD mentions that 2 French researchers he talked to recommended it.  I told him I would research and ask more about whether this method is truly better than just pruning and if any of you does this.

Thanks,
Mudwelly Girl 


The most likely reason we don't see a lot of Bonsai techniques or even the French techniques is because of the time consumption it demands especially in a working commercial orchard.
For full size trees you need several sizes of wire (copper wire is the best since you can anneal it to make it soft over and over) so if you start thinking about the costs of #2 thru #00 copper wire, you can see why they don't particularly use the technique.

Using ropes to pull a branch or branches into shape is great too but you need anchors and should you need to get to the trunk area, you might find it a challenge if there are a lot of branches being adjusted at the same time.

I use both copper wires and padded ropes to adjust branches when needed, if it is not a main branch I usually prune the crossing branch that is the youngest.

I've been making Bonsai since 1968, it is super fun to create a miniature of a huge tree and have it in a complementary container that really shows off the tree as a whole.
I even have some growing over rocks. My favorites are the natural Bonsai I have found out in nature and brought home.
In our heat and high humidity, I have to use timed watering during the week days to be sure they don't dry out completely and expire on me.

Redhawk
 
John Saltveit
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Tree training has many forms and espalier is just one.  You don't hear about it as much because most people have lost the culture of caring for fruit trees, which is a tragedy.  I use some of the techniques that Bryant talked about, ropes and training for an even shaped, open, and optimally angled tree.
John S
PDX OR
 
Beth Mouse
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Thank you so much for all the replies.  We are still waiting to talk to our county extension specialist about the wires on the fruit trees and I will let you know their input as well.  Sounds like we should give it a try on at least a few fruit trees.  We have 15 trees. 

Thanks so much!
 
yoh Rame
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Hi everybody, i am french. and i am pretty shure than The 2 french his talking about in the dvd are Claude and lydia bourguinion, a french couple, expert in soil and organic agriculture, they did  créate their own laboratory in 1990 after didn't like the gouvernement idea about agriculture management. . I don't think they do anything in english, but they publish 3 book in french. the last one just came about substainable agriculture.

here their website :   http://www.lams-21.com/
 
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