Re: Another question on pruning 2 yr old grafted apple trees
Hi Dan, thought I’d let a couple other opinions emerge before basically concurring with you… To achieve the ‘open vase’ (which is my preference too), you’ve got it, cut off the vertical growth above the highest desired branching height and allow the buds below to emerge as ‘branches.’ 32 inches would place your branches ‘below’ that, so a cut at 36 inches would likely work well. I like the open vase so as to step up and into the middle of the trees; it also allows more even sunlight penetration and air circulation.
As the ‘branches’ sprout, watch that no ‘one branch’ becomes dominant. Give them some time to grow, but if their growth isn’t fairly even, ‘tip pinch’ (pinch out) the fastest growing branch to allow more energy to feed the others (the pinched branch will usually ‘fork,’ which is often desired). Usually the vigor of the tree will determine the number of buds that push toward branches after the terminal bud’s cut on the trunk.
I wouldn’t do any limb-spreading the first year; just allow them to grow up. But the following year you’ll have to do some serious limb-spreading to open up ‘the vase.’ With heavy deer predation, I’ve always had to enclose my young trees with four steel posts wrapped in ‘chicken wire’ fencing from bottom to top. A definite hassle, but an excellent way to train four main branches, by tying them to the posts for a couple seasons … then eventually removing the posts and wire.
I’ve seen some ‘neat’ little ¾ X ¾ inch wood steaks with finishing nails inserted at each end with a sharp part ‘out.’ They’ve worked well for others when spreading those ‘first year limbs.’ I’d used notched steaks …but limbs first
As John mentioned, each tree is different, and will sometimes indicate what’s best for them. And as Eric led off with … this is opinionated