Bending branches with wires, Kung Fu pruning?

I’ve had some good results in recent years with the solaxe approach. I was a bit hesitant to drive deck screws into the base of the tree for anchors, but it works well–so much better than using weights. And I have found that the best line to use is paracord. I buy it in rolls of 1000 feet or more–it’s so useful for many things. Poly baling twine caused girdling, but the paracord does not. I use a trucker’s hitch as a knot.

Thanks marc5 - I really appreciate the info!

I use green garden tape that has a bit of stretch. Then I use wire or twine or whatever for the long part. I tie a small loop around the branch with the green, no-girdle stuff, and then I can tie the twine or wire around the loop and to my stake. You can use the green stuff the whole way, too, if you like.

They get girdled by materials faster than you might expect! I left the string tie label on two pears, and even those got embedded before I even thought of it. They were still cuttable, so I’m good.

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I tie branches down with a tautline hitch knot as well. Same knot for staking out a tent. Sometimes Will use old tent stakes too.

thanks gsims1997! what kind of twine/rope/tape do you use? Tent stakes probably work great. Do you leave them in forever, or take them out after the limbs are all trained like you want them?

hey marc5, isn’t a trucker’s hitch a bit of overkill unless you need to pull with stronger torque? If you need to adjust you have to retie don’t you? A tautline can be adjusted with a simple slide of the knot.

I use whatever twine I have. Usually left over hay bailing twine. I only leave limbs staked until they can hold the angle I want on their own.

I have a small issue that I am trying to work through before I do my dormant pruning. Last year I planted apple whips on M7 rootstock and headed them back to 3 feet. I spread the new growth using toothpicks, followed by homemade branch spreaders, and then later tying down most branches. What happened frequently was that the scaffold remained horizontal until it outgrew my branch spreaders and then shot rapidly upward. When I attempted to tie down the upward-turned branch, it would twist. So it was effectively lowering the branch, but it was also pulling it to the left or right too. To be honest, it just looked ugly.

  1. Does anyone have experience with this branch twisting problem and, if so, how were you able to overcome the twisting?

  2. Since I am trying to get these trees to bear fruit sooner rather than later, how long might fruiting be delayed by cutting off the terminal 1 foot of growth to an outward facing bud (scaffolds are 2.5-3 feet long) as an alternative to the branch bending?

Once they have shot up it’s hard to deal with, but you can help prevent it by hanging clothespins on the tips of the branches and moving them as the branch adds length. Hex nuts with twist ties can work, and so on.

I don’t know how long fruiting is delayed on M7 apple; my limited experience with pear is that it can slow them down quite a bit.

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I stopped using limb spreaders in most cases because they were not giving me much in the way of horizontal wood for this reason. I now mainly do dormant training, wait til its a big tall shoot and then tie it down. I can still get some of this twisting when I tie branches down and I often do creative things like tying the tie string itself to something else, tying to a neighboring tree, tying to a pole I put in, etc to get a good fixed horizontal limb. In summary, its a pain and you need to be creative.


its a pain and you need to be creative its a pain and you need to be creative its a pain and you need to be creative its a pain and you need to be creative its a pain and you need to be creative its a pain and you need to be creative.

I agree multiple times over!!

Best comment I’ve seen!!!

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One of the things I’ve tried is to take some straight stick -bamboo or whatever- and try to lash the wayward branch to it, but it was cumbersome, difficult, only partly effective; I don’t particularly recommend it but YMMV. On a smaller tree it might work better.

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Thanks, it is good to know that it is not too unusual to have a tree that looks like a giant spider web (that the string trimmer always gets caught in).

I will refrain from heading my scaffolds and use multiple points of contact to lower each branch with weights, string, wires, sticks, etc. to attempt to harness the growth of the branches.

In hindsight, I may have made the process too burdensome last year by feeling compelled to lower every branch- even those which I will be cutting off (once it stops raining). Live and learn!

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Good. All I have are smaller trees.:slightly_smiling_face:

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I like Sobkowiak’s hooked wires idea, and plan to make some for this coming season. We have some nice coated fence wire that should work well. I’ve done the hanging heavy things – broken some branches when the wind gets whipping them around, and rather concerrned about being beaned by a flying object. Though I found tying something fairly close works pretty good. I use pieces of small firewood when I do. Spreaders invariably fly off in a good wind, and it seems I never have just the right size or convenient branch to hook them behind. Tying down to the ground resulted in breaking off the top of a real nice 6th leaf apple when the weed trimmer found the tie just moments before I noticed it. All involved survived. But when i inelegantly tripped over another one I decided that system just wasn’t for me.

Tying branch to branch or trunk works OK – I use strips of cloth (sheets, tshirts, whatever is around) (rotary cutter makes quick work of making strips). Ties stuff easily in my jacket pockets. Works fine, no fancy knots, just loop around branch loosly & tie, same at the other end. Cut them off when done. Biggest problem is that there is aparently simply no way to get just one tie out of said pocket without pulling out the whole kit-and-caboodle (which is usually a significant bunch of miscellaneous stuff depending on what I’ve been working on.)

But I think the wires will be convenient and easier for putting on and taking off. I can hang a few here and there throughout the orchard to have when I want one. And I won’t be tempted to put them in my overloaded pockets. Look forward to trying them out. Sue