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 Stella Cherry pruning 
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Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:15 am
Posts: 3
Post Stella Cherry pruning
Hello everyone, sorry for this basic question but I seem to be having trouble finding direct and more specific pruning descriptions and examples.

I bought a Stella Cherry tree last summer and I have been looking for examples of how I should prune and take care of this tree. I have found tons of information online but all the good information I have found is all text and in terms and ideas that I am not sure how to interpret. I have found videos of people pruning 20 year old trees that were out of control and have seen pictures of how to start the very first pruning, but nothing in between.

If I had some decent chronological pictures to show the progression of a tree and what shape it should generally fit into that would be great.

Attached are a couple pictures I took today.

I am assuming that I need to pull and train those 4 branches down but am unsure as to how much/to what angle. Also I don't know what length to cut them too or where I should try to have branches come off of those. The other question is when should I do my pruning, now during the winter, spring, or when?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Steve
Virginia, USA


Attachments:
Stella 1.JPG
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Stella 3.JPG
Stella 3.JPG [ 660.24 KiB | Viewed 3100 times ]
Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:55 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Stella Cherry pruning
Hey Steve, good questions and nice tree. I’d suggest you spread those limbs to 60 degrees, no more. Prune the uppermost limbs back maybe 6 to 10 buds (from their tips) to a down and outward facing bud. No big deal - just stop the ‘straight away’ extension growth and you’ll trigger the formation of lateral branches.

With young trees, I’d wait until late February to prune. And with cherries, wait for the prediction of a few (2 or 3) dry days, so as not to allow the easy transfer of pathogens. I’d shorten those two (lowest) smaller limbs but never expect much from them - as the top four should and will become your main scaffold limbs.

A ¼ inch by one inch ‘survey steak’ with “V” notches cut in each end works well for spreading the limbs; just don’t snap them from the trunk! Personally, I need to cage my fruit trees from deer, deer love cherry leaves! Four steel or wooden posts with chicken wire wrapped around to protect the trees for two or three years (until they’re out of easy reach) will give you stable locations to tie off and spread those limbs to near perfection -- though you only need them 'spread' for one season.

Spreading the limbs lower is better than placing the spreader sticks high, thus creating ‘arches.’ But again, don’t chance splitting off a limb just to spread it – that would be a major loss. And no more than a sixty degree angle, the weight of the limbs will eventually bring them down a bit.

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Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:31 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:15 am
Posts: 3
Post Re: Stella Cherry pruning
Got it. Your survey stake comment though...are you saying to use survey stakes with notches as what would be pulling down on the branches? I was planning on just using a piece of old t-shirt to keep the twine from cutting in on the branches, but notched stakes are a great idea too.

Also, just because I am a perfectionist, when I look for a cut point on the main scaffold branches, which direction should the bud be facing, straight down(bottom of branch), or kind of off to one side?

Thanks for all your help! I am looking forward to having some nice cherries whenever the tree is ready. Now I just will need to keep the watering schedule right and keep the bugs off. Last summer I evidently was not watering the tree enough so it stressed, and I had an insect problem, which I took care of with some fruit tree spray. The leaves never looked really good through the summer though. Hopefully it will be better this year!

Thanks again!


Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:57 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Stella Cherry pruning
Good question; the ‘survey steaks’ are considered “spreader-sticks.” You cut a notch (I actually wrap a piece of old T-shirt around the notch as not to scrape the bark) …in one end, push it away from the center outward, bend over an opposing limb, measure, mark and cut an equivalent notch in it (wrapped as well) and spread the two limbs apart equally. With the four limbs you’d at least use two sticks. I’ve used more if necessary (also a perfectionist) to ‘push them around’ to the perfect angles.

Other than tying them off to posts of some kind …I wouldn’t hang weights from the limbs; too easy to split them off. Cherries, to me, seem too brittle for that. Again – you don’t want to lose any of those excellent limbs.

After you spread the limbs, look for a bud facing down, it may only help a little when ‘directing’ new growth, not too big a deal. It is the way you prune, or head back fruit trees in general.

My only question was if you’ve got a pollinator …but that’s why you’ve got a Stella :P

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Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:38 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Stella Cherry pruning
Hey – on closer inspection (clicking to open to a larger photo) I notice your main limbs are loaded with fruit buds! So those limbs are likely two years old and ready to bloom!

I’d just spread them to the sixty degrees (get out your protractor) and leave them – no heading or directional cuts. Because you wouldn’t be cutting to a ‘growth bud,’ you’d be cutting back to a fruit spur or flower bud. It will begin to fan out lateral branches as is. Nice tree.

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Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:13 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:15 am
Posts: 3
Post Re: Stella Cherry pruning
Ahh ok, yeah I don't know the difference between growth buds and fruit buds. I also forgot to mention that late last summer I did have two flowers pop up at the top of one of the main limbs. Nothing formed but the tree was really stressed and spotty and eaten up so I wasn't expecting anything else.

Ok so I will just spread the limbs and then leave them alone.

Thanks!


Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:29 am
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