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Formative pruning of an apple tree - from a seedling to an adult tree

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If an apple tree grows in your garden, naturally, you want to get as many tasty fruits from it as possible. Often, beginner gardeners believe that the larger the tree, the greater the harvest will delight. I hasten to convince you of this. In order for the apple tree to give a rich high-quality crop, so that the fruits are large and juicy, each of its branches should receive enough light and air. With a decrease in the incidence of light on the branches to 30 percent, fruit buds on the trees do not form, and with even greater dimming, the branches, in general, can die. To avoid this, it is necessary to regularly conduct forming pruning. In this article we will tell (and show) about the forming pruning of the apple tree - when to start, what to cut, what should be the slices.

Formative pruning of an apple tree - from a seedling to an adult tree

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

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

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

  • young tree - the formation of the correct stem;
  • young tree - crown formation;
  • adult or old tree - production phase, replacement pruning;
  • a very old tree - extension of fruiting, the formation of a new skeleton of a tree.

Next, we consider the methods of forming pruning apple trees for each of its life cycles - from seedlings to old trees.

The first formative pruning of a seedling is the formation of an apple tree strain

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 stump. But if the landing is made in the fall, you need to wait until early spring. If in the spring - then right there, after planting.

In advance, ahead of what height the stump will be - it can be from 40 to 80 cm.

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

It happens that the seedling already has lateral branches. Then from them at a level higher than the intended stem, several ones are directed in different directions, for the formation of skeletal branches, and everything below is removed. The lower part of the trunk should be free from branches that will interfere with the harvest, cultivation of the land around the tree.

Left branches are shortened by 3-5 kidneys.

Pruning apple tree seedlings after planting: A - seedling seedlings with lateral shoots, B - seedling seedlings without lateral shoots

Re-pruning a young tree - forming the crown of an apple tree

Repeated forming prunings of the young apple tree are made the next three to five years after its rooting. At this stage, the crown of the tree is formed.

It is better to prune apple trees of this age in the spring before buds open - in March-April. If you do this in the fall, early autumn frosts can damage the places of cuts.

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

The task of repeated trimming is to save 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.

It is good if the branches of one tier are located at a distance of 15 cm from each other.

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

Important! Frame branches of adjacent tiers should not be located one above the other. The greater the angle with the trunk is a branch, the better it bears fruit and the more enduring to the weight of the fruit.

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

The 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 apple trees

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 directly above the kidney.

This kidney is not chosen randomly. It should be facing out. It is from her that a new branch will appear, which is most deviated from the mother. And it will be saved later for the formation of the crown of the tree.

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

Forming pruning of a young apple tree is made every year and provides a certain shape of the crown of the tree. This shape represents several levels of wireframe branches. The task is to catch as much sunlight as possible and get the maximum amount of air.

Important! The shorter the pruned branches, the stronger they grow. Therefore, insufficiently strong wireframe branches trim more.

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

Pruning branches saves energy and nutrients entering the tree.

When forming pruning apple trees, the principle of subordination of branches should be observed. This means that the central conductor branch should always be about 20 cm higher than the branches of the last tier. The main frame branches are also formed: the side 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 in the growth process, then in order to preserve them and not lose the crop, such branches are bent using a rope or struts.

Around the middle of the branch, a rope is tied through a collar, pulled and tightened as much as possible. 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, rejecting the latter.

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

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, forming pruning is necessary to maintain, regulate and direct the growth of the tree.

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

  • The formation of new shoots;
  • The formation of new flower buds;
  • Fruit production.

The right balance between these processes is important. If the tree is well balanced, it automatically creates flower buds, and we do not need to stimulate this by pruning.

The choice of method and degree of pruning of an 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. In addition, it is important to regularly thin out or rejuvenate the fruit tree.

When pruning, you start at the bottom of the tree and move up.

Important! You can not prune a young apple tree by more than a third. Otherwise, it can lead to stunted growth and a decrease in fruiting.

What is removed with each pruning apple tree:

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

Extra branches take away the energy of growth, which is necessary for fruiting. A large number of branches can give a little more fruit, but they turn out small and not of the best quality.

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

A shortened branch will grow on each side of the growth, because there is growth energy, and the length of the cut branch is no longer growing. Next year, a branch is selected from them that will go in the right direction, the rest is removed.

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

Formative pruning of an adult and an old apple tree

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

Around the thick branches of the apple tree, which were removed during winter pruning, a wreath of young shoots often develops. You can leave one successful, the rest should be removed.

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

Old trees are pruned in the fall after the onset of leaf fall, when the growing season ends. Always consider possible periods of frost. Places of saw cuts should have time to tighten, so that because of frosts, there is no exfoliation of the bark in these places.

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

Formative pruning of an adult and an old apple tree involves pruning approximately 1/3 of the new growths

The technique of pruning apple shoots

For trimming, use sharp, high-quality tools (secateurs, hacksaws, knives) to make the cut as smooth as possible. This reduces the risk of tree disease. The cut of large branches is treated with oil paint, the cut of branches with a thickness of up to 1 cm can not be processed.

With the correct pruning of the branches, the slice looks as follows: the base of the slice coincides with the bottom of the kidney, and the upper part is slightly higher than the kidney.
In the figure below, the left branch has the correct pruning method, the other two are pruned incorrectly.

Branch pruning technique: A - right, B and C - wrong

Do not cut too close above the kidney, but not too far from it. The membrane of the kidney should remain intact. Too close a cut above the kidney can cause it to dry out and die. Too far - the risk of infection will increase, since the remaining stump above the kidney will die.

Remove branches along the trunk or cut branches of the main frame as smoothly as possible above the collar of the branch, cut the cambium layer from the outside. The collar of a branch can be recognized as a “ring-shaped” hill at the lower end of such a branch. After this, a wound filling is formed, callus, which makes the site of the removed branch almost invisible.

Attention! When cutting branches, do not go deep into the trunk or fabric of the supporting branch, so as not to damage the layers of the tree along which the juice moves.

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

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

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

Among the cut wood there are many that were damaged by diseases or already dead and covered with mushrooms. 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 the apple tree is an important and indispensable process, and combining it with watering, top dressing, and protection from diseases, you will get a wonderful crop.

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