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  #1  
Old 01-14-2012, 05:52 PM
whytreewhy whytreewhy is offline
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Default Pruning 3/4" Bare Root Trees

I just received my DWN trees. They are bare root 3/4" caliper. I wanted to cut them down to size. Only the apples have low (knee height) branching. Can I cut these down below the lowest branches? How far should I prune back the trees if I can't cut them that low?

Thanks, some photos below and the rest in the link.

Nectarines (want to cut below the lowest branches, one is 1" caliper!)


Peaches (want to cut below lowest, both 3/4")


Apples (keep current branching, how much to prune?)


Apricot, Pluot, and Cherries in the link...
DWN Bare Root Trees

EDIT: Not sure why pics aren't showing, they are all in the link though.

Last edited by whytreewhy; 01-14-2012 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:04 PM
Big Jim Big Jim is offline
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I hope others post too.

From my experience you want to cut them off about knee high. If you are timid, you may get away with halfway between knee and waist.

If you are too timid, and don't prune them way back, they won't grow much.

In transplanting, the trees have lost not only a lot of top, they have also lost a lot of root. To be truly healthy the first year, there needs to be more root than top. If not, the roots won't be strong enough to support the top and the growth it needs.

That said, last year this topic came up, and it was said that on larger diameter trees this is not as critical. I don't remember where the point of change is, but it seems like it was either 3/4" or 7/8". So the 1" tree should get minimum pruning, while the 3/4" trees are near the borderline.

I hope others join the discussion.
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Old 01-14-2012, 10:28 PM
whytreewhy whytreewhy is offline
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Jim,

Thanks for your response. One reason I posted this question in DWN forums is because I was hoping they would have done this experiment themselves. If they are selling 3/4" caliper trees to nurseries and promoting BYOC and cutting to knee high I would guess they have tried this on their own lots. Hopefully someone from DWN can chime as to whether they have and what the results are.

So you are suggesting cutting all the 3/4" trees to whips somewhere between knee or mid knee/waist high?

I'm a novice so I'm ready to follow to consensus of more experienced growers. Looking forward to other replies.
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Old 01-14-2012, 10:50 PM
Big Jim Big Jim is offline
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It seems like cutting them back that much at planting is a lesson I need to re-learn every few years. Yes, I would suggest doing so with everything 3/4" of smaller. The 1" one probably would do well if not cut back so much but I don't have good advice for that. That's why I welcome others comments.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:18 AM
Administrator Administrator is offline
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Nursery trees are grown to be suitable for any style of planting and pruning; the end user tops a tree (or does not) according to the intended tree form. For low-limbed BOC-style tree shaping it is first necessary to cut the tree low, as low as knee height.

Bareroot trees stored properly then well-planted in good soil tend to start vigorously, producing multiple shoots after topping at knee height. Smaller trees often perform better (more shoots) than larger ones, sometimes because they are the younger trees (one year in the nursery vs. two). Also, the sooner barerooted trees are planted the better for vigorous spring growth.

If one retail nursery has only large trees and smaller ones are preferred, perhaps a bit more searching will turn up some smaller ones.

As far as sacrificing existing branches above knee (or any other) height, it’s the pruner’s call. Novice fruit tree pruners often decide to prune some one way and some another. Most everyone is initially reluctant to prune aggressively, but we try it, observe and learn. Generally, it seems there is more often regret later for having not pruned low at planting than for having done it.

Looking at your photos, I would cut all the trees low now, saving low branches where they exist (cutting back to two nodes), and not worrying about it where they don't. The less top the roots have to push, the stronger the new growth.

Craig
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Old 01-15-2012, 01:02 PM
whytreewhy whytreewhy is offline
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Thanks for the reply Craig. I took your advice except on the apricot. I've read in this forum that winter is not the time to prune because of disease problems in the wet weather. We will have rain in 3-4 days in San Jose (Finally).

Come to think of it the cut it when the put it in a box for shipping. Any suggestions? Should I prune to knee and seal the apricot?

Thanks again for the valuable information.
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  #7  
Old 01-15-2012, 02:03 PM
Fascist Nation Fascist Nation is offline
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I just brought home 21 DWN bareroot trees. 3/4" to 1" calipers. I actually like 1/2"-5/8" caliper best but these were really superb looking bareroot trees...and anyway I didn't have a choice. At the exchange where I picked mine up I helped prune other people's bareroots for a few hours.

Many really didn't want a strip down...and that is fine, it is their tree. Plus, fruit trees can also be used to deliver shade which means a tall tree...but even a central leader may need to be cut back because it is weak at the top. I would prune off much of the weaker branches, upright, broken and water spouts, seriously shorten up the main branches for transport and give them some quick pruning advice for the first two years depending upon what they planned for their tree.

While there I stripped ALL of my tree's branches off and shortened ALL of the trees down to around three feet above the root graft. This was for transport in my Jeep. Once planted I cut each to around 24" - 28" height from the root graft. You could cut down to 18", but I kind of think this height is more useful for people wanting to keep their trees to 6 feet heights via pruning for the life of their tree. I chose 24" target height for an open vase style for a 8' tall tree, once the eyes start to bud bring the three main branches off at around 8" separation from one another leaving about a 8"-12" trunk between the graft point and the lowest branch.

I am thinking of a modified central leader for my pome fruit, but since none have shipped yet I have no opinion on how successful this form will be to keeping it at a 8' maximum height, and it will be three years before I have a good opinion.

On looking at your tree's images, I can see several branches on several that appear (hard to be sure from a 2D image) would make good main branches (nice 45 degree crotch). But IMHO others clearly should be removed. Plus any pointing out towards that wall will probably have to go. There is another school of thought however that just lets a tree go the way it wants figuring it knows best---I'm not in that school. I definitely would strip that Fuji (?) down and go with a new round of branching.
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:24 PM
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whytreewhy -

Either option is fine. Topping trees fresh from the nursery isn't usually as problematic as pruning older trees where disease/inoculum is more likely to be present.

C.
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  #9  
Old 01-16-2012, 09:01 PM
whytreewhy whytreewhy is offline
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Okay,

I took the apricot down like the others. Probably a few inches above my knee height. I'll post pictures in a couple of months to show how they branch out (or don't!).


3/4" Trees pre and post cut
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  #10  
Old 04-08-2012, 05:55 PM
whytreewhy whytreewhy is offline
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Update:

8 of the 10 trees have leafed out so far. Most of them from the very bottom just above the rootstock.

The two that haven't are the 1" Arctic Blaze nectarine and the Double Delight peach, although it looks lie the peach may push.

Unfortunately the Flavor King pluot and Arctic Supreme peach had their growth knocked of by my dogs running around. I don't know if they'll push out anywhere else. I guess I might as well leave everything in for the summer and can re-assess during dormant season.

For the ones that pushed in a single location only. Should I train to make it the main branch or wait and see for any other growth?

Some Pictures:

BYOC Growth





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