Formative Pruning Of An Apple Tree - From A Seedling To An Adult Tree. Schemes

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Formative Pruning Of An Apple Tree - From A Seedling To An Adult Tree. Schemes
Formative Pruning Of An Apple Tree - From A Seedling To An Adult Tree. Schemes

Video: Formative Pruning Of An Apple Tree - From A Seedling To An Adult Tree. Schemes

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Video: 5 - Pruning a 1 year old maiden fruit tree for a bush sized adult tree 2023, January
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If you have an apple tree growing in your garden, naturally, you want to get as many tasty fruits from it as possible. Often novice gardeners believe that the more luxuriant the tree, the more it will delight you with the harvest. I hasten to dissuade you of this. In order for the apple tree to give a rich high-quality harvest, so that the fruits are large and juicy, each of its branches must receive enough light and air. With a decrease in the amount of light on the branches to 30 percent, fruit buds on the trees are not formed, and with even more darkening, the branches, in general, may die. To prevent this from happening, it is necessary to regularly carry out formative pruning. In this article we will tell (and show) about the formative pruning of an apple tree - when to start, what to cut, what cuts should be.

Formative apple pruning - from seedling to mature tree
Formative apple pruning - from seedling to mature tree

Content:

  • Each period of development of the apple tree has its own methods of formation
  • The first formative pruning of the seedling - the formation of the apple tree trunk
  • Repeated pruning of a young tree - forming the crown of the apple tree
  • Features of pruning frame branches of an apple tree
  • Formative pruning of a young fruiting apple tree
  • Formative pruning of mature and old apple trees
  • Apple tree shoot pruning technique

Each period of development of the apple tree has its own methods of formation

Formative pruning is essential for all fruit trees, including the apple tree. It achieves a beautiful and balanced tree structure with strong fruiting branches. An open crown with light and air access to each branch ensures the large size and quality of the apples. Formative apple pruning keeps the tree healthy and prolongs its life cycle.

Formative pruning methods for apple trees are directly related to the life cycle of the tree. The life cycle of an apple tree can be roughly divided into four phases:

  • young tree - the formation of the correct trunk;
  • young tree - crown formation;
  • mature or old tree - production phase, replacement pruning;
  • very old tree - prolongation of fruiting, the formation of a new skeleton of the tree.

Next, we will consider the methods of formative pruning of an apple tree for each of its life cycles - from a seedling to an old tree.

The first formative pruning of the seedling - the formation of the apple tree trunk

After the apple tree seedling has been planted, it is important to immediately apply the pruning of the first form, that is, to form the correct stem. But if the planting is done in the fall, you need to wait until early spring. If in the spring - then right there, after planting.

If the seedling does not have side branches, the crown is shortened on it at a height of 80-100 cm.If it is below 40 cm, it is left without pruning.

It happens that the seedling already has side branches. Then, at the level above the intended trunk, several directed in different directions are selected from them, for the formation of skeletal branches, and everything that is below is removed. The lower part of the trunk should be free of branches that will interfere with harvesting, cultivating the land around the tree.

The left branches are shortened by 3-5 buds.

Pruning of an apple tree seedling after planting: A - a small seedling with side shoots, B - a seedling without side shoots
Pruning of an apple tree seedling after planting: A - a small seedling with side shoots, B - a seedling without side shoots

Repeated pruning of a young tree - forming the crown of the apple tree

Repeated formative pruning of a young apple tree is made for the next three to five years after its rooting. At this stage, the crown of the tree is formed.

Apple trees of this age are best cut in the spring before bud break - in March-April. If done in the fall, early fall frosts can damage the cut sites.

Formation of the crown of a young apple tree: A - a seedling before pruning, B - a seedling after the formation of the first tier of the crown. 1 and 2 - branches of the first tier, 3 - central conductor, 4 and 5 - branches to be cut
Formation of the crown of a young apple tree: A - a seedling before pruning, B - a seedling after the formation of the first tier of the crown. 1 and 2 - branches of the first tier, 3 - central conductor, 4 and 5 - branches to be cut

The task of repeated pruning is to keep 2-3 (up to 4 in the first tier) frame branches to obtain an open crown on each tier. The trick is to form these branches in a proportional circle. Ideally, if the branches of the frame have the same slope, then the energy they receive is also the same.

The second tier is formed at a distance of 45 cm from the first. For this, having decided on the branches of the first tier, the conductor is shortened again. Further, the formation is continued according to the begun scheme.

On branches with an acute angle of discharge, few fruits appear, they are less hardy and can break under the weight of the crop, while damaging the trunk. Therefore, if you have a choice, it is better to delete them.

Formation of the crown of a young apple tree: branches 1 and 2 - frame branches of the second tier of the crown
Formation of the crown of a young apple tree: branches 1 and 2 - frame branches of the second tier of the crown

Features of pruning frame branches of an apple tree

As mentioned above, when choosing and forming skeletal (frame) branches of the first order, we shorten the long shoots of the apple tree to 3-4 buds, cutting them off right above the bud.

This kidney is not chosen by chance. It should be facing outward. It is from it that a new branch will appear, deviating as much as possible from the mother. And it will be preserved in the future for the formation of the crown of the tree.

Pruning of frame branches of an apple tree: A - branch before pruning, B - frame branch after pruning with a new shoot
Pruning of frame branches of an apple tree: A - branch before pruning, B - frame branch after pruning with a new shoot

Formative pruning of the young apple tree is carried out every year and provides a definite shape for the crown of the tree. This shape represents several levels of wireframe branches. The challenge is to capture as much sunlight as possible and get the maximum amount of air.

The terminal growths of a young apple tree during formative pruning are shortened every year by one third or half of the branch.

Pruning branches saves energy and nutrients used by the tree.

When forming an apple tree, the principle of subordination of branches should be observed. This means that the central guide branch should always be about 20 cm higher than the branches of the last tier. The main frame branches are also formed: lateral shoots should not be longer than the central ones.

If the selected frame branches of the apple tree have an insufficient angle of inclination or acquire a vertical position during growth, then in order to preserve them and not lose the harvest, such branches are bent with a rope or spacers.

Approximately to the middle of the branch, a rope is tied through a clamp, pulled as much as possible and fixed. The rope tension is periodically controlled by bending the branch more and more until it is horizontal.

A similar role is played by wooden struts, which are installed between the trunk and the branch, deflecting the latter.

If the frame branches have an insufficient angle of inclination, then they are pulled back with a rope or spacers
If the frame branches have an insufficient angle of inclination, then they are pulled back with a rope or spacers

Formative pruning of a young fruiting apple tree

After the initial stage of crown formation, when the apple tree is already beginning to bear fruit, formative pruning is necessary to maintain, regulate and direct the tree's growth.

We need to find a balance between growth and fertility. The fruit tree distributes its energy to various processes, including:

  • Formation of new shoots;
  • Formation of new flower buds;
  • Fruit production.

The right balance between these processes is important. If the tree is well balanced, it will automatically create flower buds and we don't need to stimulate this by pruning.

The choice of the method and degree of pruning of the apple tree depends on the goal. For fruit production, it is important that enough light can penetrate the tree. The goal is to have light and air in all places of the crown, so that the branches do not intertwine, so that each branch has freedom and can develop. It is also important to regularly thin out or rejuvenate the fruit tree.

When pruning, you start at the bottom of the tree and work your way up.

What is removed with each pruning of the apple tree:

  • broken, diseased and dead branches;
  • branches that grow inward or vertically upward;
  • fan-shaped branches, the so-called "brooms", are cut, leaving only one branch growing most horizontally.
  • if two branches grow side by side, cut one off;
  • rubbing branches;
  • if there are three processes nearby, remove the middle one;
  • low-growing branches.

Extra branches take away the growth energy that is needed for fruiting. A large number of branches can produce a little more fruit, but they are small and not of the best quality.

When pruning an apple tree today, you need to have a plan for crown growth for 2 years in advance.

A shortened branch will grow on the sides with increments, because there is growth energy, but the cut branch no longer grows in length. The next year, a branch is selected from them, which will go in the right direction, we remove the rest.

Formative pruning of a young fruiting apple tree is aimed at removing: A - dead branches, B - growing inward, C - rubbing with each other, D - thickening the crown
Formative pruning of a young fruiting apple tree is aimed at removing: A - dead branches, B - growing inward, C - rubbing with each other, D - thickening the crown

Formative pruning of mature and old apple trees

An adult tree with an already formed crown also requires adjustment. In spring, in dry weather, while the branches are not yet covered with foliage, young shoots are removed, according to the above pruning rules. Leaving these shoots means creating a light barrier for the fruiting branches.

A wreath of young shoots often develops around the thick branches of the apple tree that were removed during winter pruning. You can leave one good one, the rest should be removed.

Usually about 1/3 of the new growth is taken away, but this can be more or less as needed. This pruning gives you stronger apple branches and better bud development.

Old trees are pruned in the fall after the beginning of leaf fall, when the growing season ends. Always consider possible periods of frost. The cuts should have time to tighten so that the bark does not peel off due to frost in these places.

Before the final formation of the crown, pruning of the apple tree is carried out annually, then after a year.

Formative pruning of mature and old apple trees involves pruning approximately 1/3 of the new growth
Formative pruning of mature and old apple trees involves pruning approximately 1/3 of the new growth

Apple tree shoot pruning technique

For trimming, use sharp, quality tools (pruning shears, hacksaws, knives) so that the cut is as smooth as possible. This reduces the risk of tree disease. The cut of large branches is processed with oil paint, the cut of branches up to 1 cm thick does not need to be processed.

With proper pruning of the branches, the cut looks like this: the base of the cut coincides with the underside of the bud, and the upper part is just above the bud.

In the picture below, the left branch has the correct pruning method, the other two are not pruned correctly.

Branch pruning technique: A - correct, B and C - incorrect
Branch pruning technique: A - correct, B and C - incorrect

Do not cut too close above the bud, but not too far from it. The kidney membrane must remain intact. Too close position of the cut over the kidney can lead to its drying out and death. Too far - the risk of infection will increase as the remaining stump above the bud will die.

Remove branches along the trunk, or trim the branches of the main frame as smoothly as possible over the branch collar, trim the outside of the cambium layer. The collar of a branch can be recognized as a "ring-shaped" rise at the lower end of such a branch. After that, a wound filling, callus, is formed, which makes the place of the removed branch almost invisible.

When cutting down a thick branch, always make a shallow cut from the bottom first, so that when cutting the branch, breaking off, does not break the layer of bark on the tree.

After that, the branch is cut down completely from above. When a hemp is formed, it is cut into a ring, and the resulting irregularities are cleaned with a sharp knife and the cut is treated with oil paint.

A - incorrect branch pruning, B - correct branch pruning
A - incorrect branch pruning, B - correct branch pruning
When cutting a thick branch, always make a shallow cut from the bottom first
When cutting a thick branch, always make a shallow cut from the bottom first

Among the cut wood, there are many that have been damaged by diseases or are already dead and covered with fungi. We should never leave such clippings in the garden. This can be a significant source of pollution for growing trees, especially between November and December. Therefore, it is better to remove or burn these branches.

Formative pruning of an apple tree is an important and irreplaceable process, and combining it with watering, feeding, and protection from diseases, you will get a wonderful harvest.

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