Advice Needed To Hard Prune a Pluot

Hi, all,
I need some advice from you regarding how to hard prune my pluot. I haven’t done anything like this before, so if you could share your experiences or give me some advice, I would greatly appreciate.

I got this Flavor King pluot from Groworganic in Jan 2020 and planted it in ground at that time. When I got the tree, I noticed a few bark damages and a few branches were different from others. But I did not give much thought to it. The tree was growing fine until Aug when I saw the gummy stuff oozing out. I researched and confirm it was bacterial canker. The bacterial cankers infected 3 places, circled in red. The other trees bought at the same time from the same nursery did not have this issue. The pluot tree was still growing very well at that time, no signs of stress on the growth or leaves.

I carved out the diseased wood as much as possible (top 2 places) and cut one branch (the lower one) in Sep. However the top two areas oozed out again in Nov. The problem was not solved. Because the cankers are found at the joints to the main trunk, I think I will have to hard prune the main trunk and let it re-grow, if the infection has not reached down too much.

I see the following options. Which one would be my best choice?

  1. Cut at point A
    This is too close to the top 2 infections. I am afraid the infection may have spread across this point.

  2. Cut at point B
    I think this is a good choice. This will leave 2 existing lower branches. One of them was infected and pruned half way off.

  3. Cut at point C
    I think this maybe the best choice. If after this cut, there is still infection, this tree is doomed. But if it’s clean, it can resprout branches from this point and I can train it again.

  4. Bud graft at point D
    The extreme approach would be doing a bud graft on the root stock. Once the bud is growing, I can cut off the entire trunk and regrow the tree. The rootstock is citation, which is very suitable to the heavy clay in my yard. I’d like to keep it if possible.

If someone is able to tell me with the certainty that the main trunk has to be cut off completely to stop the infection, I will not hesitate to do that. Or even take out the tree completely if that’s what I have to do to stop the disease from spreading.

Pluot01 Pluot02

I am no expert, but I had a idea. Cut of some off some of the top branches for scion wood. Store it in the fridge. (Graft in the spring) Chip or bud graft (3-4 Buds) between A and B. If the grafts take, cut the tree off right above point A.

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Another option just cut it off a knee high, and hope it starts branching out. I had a deer destroyed the top out of one of my young tree, I cut it a knee high, and it started branches out. Now it has the perfect open center with 4-5 branches coming out evenly. I thought the tree was doomed at first.knee-high-heading-prune%20jpg


Thank you Mark!
I agree. That is the best option in my opinion too, option 3. I saw a lot of nurseries recommended cutting at knee height when planting new trees. It is safe.

I wish there is a definitive way to tell if branches are infected or not. Then I can take some scions and know they are free of cankers.

I also bought a Flavor King on Citation from GO last year. It leafed but didn’t thrive and I discovered canker on trunk and every branch. Had to pull it out. I purchased FK on Myro from Bay Laurel this year. Hope it turns out better.


Thank you Ellen for sharing your experience!
I suspected the tree came in with disease. I actually later contacted Groworganic. The customer rep told me that these trees were from Dave Wilson and Dave WIlson is very careful to keep their orchards clear of disease. They had no reports of any trees with canker from customers last year other than me.

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Sounds like a sales rep pitch there. Every orchardist, hobbiest or commercial, tries to keep diseases out of their orchards. Every one of us deals with something. Im assuming since you only had the tree a few months, and it was damaged when you got it, that it either picked it up in storage at the nursery, or shortly after you planted it. Either way, thats a tough one. Id cut it off knee high and seal the cut with sealant to keep other bacteria from getting in the wound. Make sure to clean your clippers before and after you work that tree!