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 a couple questions regarding limb spreaders/spacers 
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Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:08 pm
Posts: 37
Location: Mulino, OR (Clackamas County)
Post a couple questions regarding limb spreaders/spacers
Hello.

Q#1: When would y'all say is the best time to start putting some limb spreaders/spacers in the scaffold limbs some 2-3 year old trees? I understand that if I wait too long, the wood can become brittle and difficult to manipulate (especially with pears). But right now, even though it looks like I'll need to do some manipulation, many of the limbs to be adjusted have such a small diameter and are so flexible that I'm doubtful that the spreaders/spacers will even stay put.

Q#2: How would you recommend narrowing (ie, the opposite of spreading) the crotch angle of the scaffold limbs on a 2-3 year old apple that are growing downward at greater than 90 degrees from the trunk. Just tie them to the main trunk tightly enough to pull them upward? Cut them off and hope for better growth next year? Another approach?


Thank you kindly.

Mitch


Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:16 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1158
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: a couple questions regarding limb spreaders/spacers
Mitch, good questions;

You get your best growth on a limb when it’s heading straight up, unfortunately. If you bend it while growing, that will stunt it. If you are building the main scaffolding for a tree, I’d let it grow fully ‘up’ this *season – then, while dormant the following season, place the spreading devices. If you are looking to produce fruit spurs and branching, which is much of what ‘summer pruning’ is about, now’s a great time for that.

*note, if you leave a branch ‘un-bent’ to obtain maximum growth, don’t allow it to compete with the main trunk.. That can sap the main tree and form a ‘weak crotch.’ If it’s competing, pinch out some of it’s (the limb's) tip growth, forcing it to branch some this season and slowing it up a bit. Also, you can always bend a limb out ‘slightly,’ just enough to show it who’s boss - and still allow enough growth to build a sturdy branched tree. ..Also, don’t leave too much fruit on young limbs, it weighs them down unnecessarily and at this stage that energy is best spent on more tree, not seed.

To ‘bring up’ a drooping branch isn’t easy.. I think it’s best to tie it to the main trunk, or prop it up from below with a notched board. When I’ve done this, I would trim some of the new growth from the end to ‘beef up’ the remaining branch. Sometimes you can turn them into a useful branch, most times not ... then you begin planning for a replacement scaffold branch further up the trunk.

…now I can get back to searching things online I know nothing about … with hopes someone who does will guide me - love the collective mind :P

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Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:08 pm
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Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:08 pm
Posts: 37
Location: Mulino, OR (Clackamas County)
Post Re: a couple questions regarding limb spreaders/spacers
Thanks Viron.

Great mind you've got there... for the collective...

Mitch


Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:28 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1361
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: a couple questions regarding limb spreaders/spacers
The only thing that I will add to Viron's always excellent advice is that if you use spreaders (I just use old sticks from the yard) cut a slice or notch, and tie them in with a string. Also make sure that the spreader is an appropriate diameter and weight for the other limbs. Not much bigger or smaller, to not bend the tree down to much or be too weak.
John S
PDX OR


Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:40 pm
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Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 11:28 pm
Posts: 485
Location: Willamette Valley near Scio
Post Re: a couple questions regarding limb spreaders/spacers
mtriplett wrote:
Q#2: How would you recommend narrowing (ie, the opposite of spreading) the crotch angle of the scaffold limbs on a 2-3 year old apple that are growing downward at greater than 90 degrees from the trunk. Just tie them to the main trunk tightly enough to pull them upward? Cut them off and hope for better growth next year? Another approach?

I tie or tape the branch to something else quite stiff (like bamboo) and straight to take the curl out of the branch, then prop that whole thing up with a long piece of rebar at the desired angle for at least a season, maybe two. Works pretty good.


Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:17 pm
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Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 11:28 pm
Posts: 485
Location: Willamette Valley near Scio
Post Re: a couple questions regarding limb spreaders/spacers
mtriplett wrote:
many of the limbs to be adjusted have such a small diameter and are so flexible that I'm doubtful that the spreaders/spacers will even stay put.

You could try small sandwich bags using a bit of sand inside for the weight, just saddle the bag over the branch with the desired amount of sand-weight. Maybe tie the bag in place with light string to make it stay better all summer.

I have even used a rock tied to string and hung it on the branch. Probably any kind of weight would work okay. Wood, brick, old refrigerators, silver dollars, gold medallions, platinum ingots, etc. :lol:


Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:22 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1361
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: a couple questions regarding limb spreaders/spacers
If I want a strong branch to be more open, I put a strong stick in the ground and tie the limb to it, usually using bicycle inner tube or strapping instead of string on the branch to decrease impact.
John S
PDX OR


Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:55 am
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Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 11:28 pm
Posts: 485
Location: Willamette Valley near Scio
Post Re: a couple questions regarding limb spreaders/spacers
Same here John, only I use long rebar rods and twine. Sometimes I need to push a branch up, other times to bring it down.

Lots of stuff works, eh?


Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:15 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1361
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: a couple questions regarding limb spreaders/spacers
Don't underestimate the creativity of a shade tree tree mechanic.
John S
PDX OR


Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:37 pm
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