Re: Pruning apples with several vertical shoots
“I am actually prepared to fight the battle
” – That’s the Spirit!
It would be helpful to ‘see’ the trees, or have a good description as to their age, and the ‘age’ of the largest ‘upright’ shoots. But I think I can envision them… and they sound to be to be well worth saving.
If they’ve got a decent current crop
, which my apple trees don’t, you may want to hold off hacking until you’ve harvested it... But to balance out the tree – I’d start cutting right now
. After they’ve safely stored this year’s energy into their root system they’ll be poised to send up 60,000 shoots to replace the thirty thousand you’ve described
By cutting the offending limbs now
you’d limit some of that stored energy, perhaps a perfect amount to help balance the growth next year. And, other than a current crop, the damage you’d do to the remaining foliage would be of little consequence. “Summer pruning” tends to damage leaves and knock off fruit.
I’d not hesitate to get in there and take out the largest of the uprights – the largest shoots rising from the tops of the main lateral limbs. While you’re there, saw off the smaller ones, too. Once you’ve got those out of the way - you’ve got all winter to plan your finishing cuts. Don’t worry or bother messing with the ‘fine pruning’ until the leaves have fallen - late winter into early spring will be fine. By removing the large offenders now you’d have a jump on the project, and as mentioned, help balance the trees stored energy.
Just be very
careful on ladders …and if a chain saw looks like a good idea … buy yourself a sturdy aggressive hand pruning saw instead. Though I’ve been known to break my own rule … chainsaws on ladders and at neck level are not
a good idea – besides, I want to hear the details of this battle