Beginner apple pruning


I have an apple tree that I’d like to set up as modified central leader, but have never done it before. It is three years old and has one long branch at a good angle. Should I do a heading cut on the top and leave the branch as is, or just let it grow this year and then prune? Thanks for your help!

When was it transplanted?

A couple days ago

Skillcult on youtube has several videos about notching above buds that you want to force to grow into branches:

Thanks. I’ll watch it. One question I have is how do I know where I want it to branch? How much does the trunk lengthen over time?

I would prune both to force growth of more side branches. You need to keep that one side branch in check to not overgrow the rest of the tree ending in an unevenly growing tree. I would prune that branch back so its tip remains lower than the top of the leader (after pruning that).

The tree looks like it was planted to deep or was it grafted very low right above the root flare?

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I am not sure I understand your question right. The trunk does not lengthen. Only the tips of the branches ad new cell layers and so the branches grow, plus the trunk and the branches get thicker over time (same principle as at the tips). The branches remain the same height all the time. Try to leave some space between each side branch. How much depends of the ultimate height you want to allow for the tree.

@SkillCult, good information in that Vidio .
notching “above” a bud will help encourage that bud/ branch
to grow more.
Conversely ,…I would add,…that notching " below" a bud/ branch, will slow it down some.
So that between notching above and below different branches/ buds the relative vigor of each can be balanced .
( such as the branch on @Bonnaand s tree above, which needs to slow down)

Thanks. The graft is low, so I did some research on here that seemed to indicate this would be ok, though not ideal. Should I be more concerned? Thanks for the above/below bud note. That’s very helpful info

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When you transplant a tree, you unavoidably destroy a large portion of the root. After you transplant a tree, you need to prune the top back to bring it into proportion with what remains of the root. If you don’t, the tree will seem to take off fine in the spring and promptly starve to death.

The old timers say, cut off the leader exactly at the height of your belt. (The old timers are usually exceedingly specific.)

I don’t know how tall you are, so in the edited photo I’ve indicated a cut just below the top of the stake. You want to find a bud facing the opposite direction from the branch and cut just above that (at the height of the top of your pants). Right!

The direction of the bud is more critical than the actual height.

I’ve indicated a cut to the branch where I think I see an upward-facing bud.

Don’t worry about all the nice buds you’re wasting by cutting off all the pretty wood and just do it. That’s my humble opinion.

The thing that bothers some about your photo is that the graft union may be touching the ground. Not everyone is bothered by this, but I am. You way wish to excavate a slight pit to expose it all. Otherwise the scion will tend to send out its own root, killing the dwarfing rootstock, and developing into a tremendous gross huge big tall tree. Not the worst thing for you maybe, but you may eventually have to take down the tree in the background to make room.

It’s a little too late to change the way this one is planted so it won’t pay to worry about it now. The next time, lay your spade handle down next to the tree after you’ve set it in the empty hole. Eyeball the height of the graft union above the handle and backfill the hole until the graft union is at least four inches above grade. That’s how I was taught. They also taught me to mulch around the tree, which changes the grade, but that’s another story. Some people place the graft union a lot higher than that, claiming that the height doesn’t cause the union to be any less strong. Depending on your root stock, you may be going to keep the tree staked for the foreseeable future. If so, the strength of the union is of secondary concern.

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No, I wouldn’t worry about it…unless there is poor drainage…or unless it’s a dwarf and the variety grafted on contacts the ground and puts out a root of it’s own and you lose the dwarfing.

This is good advice.
It’s what I …( and many ? ) would do .
Just backing you up here…:+1:

If it had just been planted a couple days ago is it really to late replant? I ask because I’m planning on moving a bare root I planted a week ago and I thought it’d be fine to do so.

It’d be OK if the tree hadn’t broken dormancy, but you’re planting it in thawed ground (I reckon), and established trees are waking up at that point. Bare-root trees … not so much. Transplanting sets them back. If the weather’s been cold and if I couldn’t stand to leave the tree where it was, I guess I’d risk moving it, too.

So even though it was only planted 1 week ago and the tree had just begun to lease out and bloom it would still be detrimental to move? How is that so? If the roots haven’t grown into the surrounding soil?

Repeated disturbance can’t be good. You want the roots to regenerate and leave them alone to do so. That said, if you can lift the entire root ball without bruising it – fine, do it, but you probably broke up the root ball before planting it the first time.

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. 1623. July 2000. Project Gutenberg. 9 May 2009

“Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh,
Shed thou no bloud, nor cut thou lesse nor more
But iust a pound of flesh: if thou tak’st more
Or lesse then a iust pound, be it so much
As makes it light or heauy in the substance,
Or the deuision of the twentieth part
Of one poore scruple, nay if the scale doe turne
But in the estimation of a hayre,
Thou diest, and all thy goods are confiscate.”