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 Pruning apples with several vertical shoots 
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:00 pm
Posts: 20
Post Pruning apples with several vertical shoots
Greetings,

I just took over a piece of property with a few apple trees on it. Apparently, previously, these trees were either heavily pruned during the winter, or for other reasons have shot for the moon. There are several vertical shoots(both new and earlier growth) coming off the main branches, some areas too dense to even reach a hand into. They have good framework, all shoots aside. What is the best way to bring these trees back into line? Would it be best to just whack em off at the main branch(All 30000 of them:D) or cut them back to a outward facing bud or what? Any help is appreciated!

Thanks!
Danc


Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:45 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1355
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Pruning apples with several vertical shoots
Winter pruning tends to strong regrowth.. Summer pruning leads to much less regrowth.

The tree will grow to the size of its rootstock.

If you have a full size tree and want to keep it at dwarf size, you will be fighting the tree all the time.

In this case, better to get one with the rootstock size you want and maintain it as such.
John S
PDX OR


Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:12 pm
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:00 pm
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Post Re: Pruning apples with several vertical shoots
Thanks John,

I plan on putting in some more dwarf or semi-dwarf trees later on, but for the ones that are here, I am actually prepared to fight the battle, at least long enough to get the trees somewhat back into line, but I am unsure of how I should approach the actual cutting. Should I take the offenders off, or just cut them back a bit or what? Should I do it now or wait until the dormant season? Thanks!


Last edited by danc on Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:37 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1155
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post 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 :mrgreen:

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 :P

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Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:46 pm
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Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 1:00 pm
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Location: SE Portland
Post Re: Pruning apples with several vertical shoots
As usual, thank you, Viron. Always appreciate your support of workable trees on not-very-size-controlling rootstock. My trees on M111 are much easier to control precisely because I've got so much material to work with. (Of course I did set my limits early on.) The midgets on M9 give me far less choice.

mh


Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:19 am
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:00 pm
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Post Re: Pruning apples with several vertical shoots
Viron, you are a Master! I wish I had some pics, but your imagination is accurate. Additionally, the trees are at least 5 and up to 15 years old. I am starting to recall, you explained some of this when you came out to lead the pruning class in the Dayton area for us Master Gardeners back around the beginning of January. I just needed this little "refresher" on tree energy and timing. Also, there are some instances where larger lateral "shoots" and some smaller ones, actually grow out and then bend to start heading straight up. These are giving the tree its current "shape." At what specific point would you cut these? All the way back, or to a bud somewhere? Or maybe not at all?Thank you!


Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:46 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1155
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Pruning apples with several vertical shoots
Thanks, Dan… my head’s swelling, or is that ripening..?

5 to 15 years-in is perfect and well worth ‘repairing.’ And, as Marsha mentions, having more to work with can be a good thing. My clay soil does a fine job of ‘natural dwarfing,’ and with my enjoyment of pruning I’d rather have more tree than less. And, I’ve a deer problem that’s only alleviated by growing them out of their reach ...which is impossible on M-9 rootstock…

When you’re talking about aiming buds you’re working with relatively new growth. New growth is very forgiving. I can envision the upward shoot growth from the ends of your lateral limbs - and would likely take it off. You can follow the branch back to a fork or vigorous spur and cut it there. Once sunlight hits a formally shaded area latent buds beneath the bark will burst and ‘fill in’ the gaps. Just guide them by pruning to a correctly aimed bud or tie them over.

Keep in mind that one to two year shoots can be ‘tied over’ to fill in gaps or placed into a fruit (as opposed to vegetative) producing angle. But if there are plenty of stems and branches, don’t bother. I’ve long thought ‘Training’ is a highly neglected skill; it allows one to utilize current growth as opposed to correcting by removing, or pruning. But it sounds like you’ve got it. Just eliminate the big stuff now and plan your strategy for fine-pruning as winter comes and goes.

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Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:45 am
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:00 pm
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Post Re: Pruning apples with several vertical shoots
Interesting, I had not considered doing any training! Seems like you could almost do a whole course just on training...Its a large concept so I am not surprised it is "neglected" as you say. I will report back my success, or whatever happens! Thanks everybody!


Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:33 am
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