BOC style...initial cut = 22"?

The Backyard Orchard Culture (or similar) approach is appealing to me. 8-9 foot trees would be fine. I have acquired yet another tree, a Satsuma Plum, on unknown rootstock. I’m thinking of chopping it, initial pruning, less than two feet tall (20"-22"), just above its two first main laterals (?, I’m still new at this), see photos. I really wish I would have started all my trees this way but I did my last one, a cherry tree, and it turned out great. I’m basically looking for confirmation, or a reason to cease and desist. I can do it, with a little encouragement.

Where I’m thinking of cutting is about 7/16 caliper. A couple inches lower than 2 feet.

I’d cut it at 22 inches right above that little shoot going right. Then cut all the branches back to a few buds. This will cause the tree to put on vigorous new growth in all directions. It might also cause buds to push off the trunk. Later on you can choose the best scaffold branches to form the tree you want.


What fruitnut said! Pruning never ends, Amazing how much grow these trees can put on. I have pruned three times in one year, and could have did more. Now that my tree are older they seem to be more settled down.

This is a long story, I shall skip it. This was cut as low as you can get! Spring of 2014.

Here it is last September.2016. It produced 66 fruit last year.


Wow, thanks FruitNut, and Drew…very impressive. I sure wished I’d done this with all my trees, but I guess I said that already. I can do this.
I’m wondering if I could do grafting lower than the current branches on my trees that mainly ‘start’ higher like at 4-5 feet? I get to ‘help out’ at the NCGR facility, Corvallis, next week and maybe again a few weeks later…yes, cutting scions. I love being around that place. I hope to learn more about scions and grafting and I will find the answers to making the most of what I have already done and future projects as well.

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Gulp…OK. (Thanks!)

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I have ones with higher scaffolds, and you can still keep them low. It’s not that big a deal. I would have never cut the tree pictured like that, but the central leader died, and the only branches alive were just above the graft. I had no choice.

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$10 apple tree that I think will be good to graft to; couldn’t pass it up. Similar situation as the plum tree in that I wish I could lop it at 2 ft. but in this case all the shoots that had started between 1 and 2 feet were pruned already. I’m thinking that makes it a no-go for new shoots down there. I’m just checking to see if anyone wants to contribute some info about this. (It’s not as crooked as it looks, but I’ll probably adjust it a bit tomorrow anyway. At least it won’t be in a hole after it settles…i don’t think.)

Do it! Chop it at 22 inches and then balance the length of the remaining branches, pruning just above outward-facing buds. A martini glass plum is in your future.

Cutting the apple back upon transplant is a good idea. Do it sooner rather than later to ensure it uses its energy reserves for creating new growth that will last.

Sometimes I cut them back to 3 or 4 feet high, at time of transplant, depending on how robust the roots look. It is a matter of allowing the roots some balance with the top. A tree that has too much top growth relative to the roots can be strained. This is the advice that Cummins Nursery gives.

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Yeah, I suppose the best I can do is trim back the branches and see what happens. One branch that looks really iffy has already been altered a bit; the arrow points at an attempt to save a too-vertical branch.

This I did on the plum…it’s lookin’ good.

It’s pruning by peer pressure…!


You should have seen what they made me do to my peach tree!

This is the piece that came off.

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If I were to start all over today I would plan to not have any trees over 8 feet tall…even 7 would be OK. That ain’t gona happen, but I hear from many people that managing size/height is very do-able, and Daemon’s peach tree is a good example. I did manage to put in quite a variety of fruiting trees and bushes, even some nut trees, and I don’t need big crops from anything. Things could be worse than having to give away fruit, eh?
BTW I need the peer pressure…it actually helps a lot. I went around rather confidently sucker-cutting this afternoon. Nice.

I use BYOC and it works very well, My trees are all under 8 feet, going on 5th leaf now, yields are around 70 fruits per tree.One I have is only 5 feet. It has about the same yield, 66 this year.

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Best of both worlds.

I’m in a similar dilemma as before but in this case it’s because of the tiny amount of roots that were left on the tree when the nursery dug it up. Here are the two healthy trees that I just acquired: one a Comice pear and one a Seckel pear…

They were out of dormancy when I purchased them (two days ago) with the Seckel even having some blooms (like six; only one can be seen). The shocker was when I removed the large sacks of sawdust from the roots: the roots had been severely chopped…about the size of my spread-out hand with the fingers pointing a little downward. I would have removed some of the branches and shortened some others (see close-up) even with decent-size roots

but with the roots having been chopped so drastically I’m wondering how far to go with the initial pruning. In the top photo the blue lines are at two feet. Seeing the trees, a certain assessment could be made re: pruning…they need some. Having almost no roots makes it a baffling predicament for me. Again, I am asking for opinions from those who have been there/done that…how much to cut?? I’m still encountering things I’ve never seen before. (Thanks!)

Hi Steve

By the sounds of it you are going to have to do some serious pruning to those trees unfortunately. You haven’t posted any pics of the roots but by the way you describe the root system, I’d recommend pruning it back to just a stick with just 3 or 4 short branches that like maybe 3 or 4 inches long. I had to do some serious pruning to my Nadia after I got it because of a small and damaged root system. I also got a Stanley plum from Stark Bros. around 4 years ago that sounds almost the same as your trees, the root system literally looked like my fist with the fingers cut off at the knuckles! It came with no branches and was just a stick so it is still living and hopefully this year or next I’ll get some fruit. Sorry, no pics of Stanley or the root system when I got it. You can see some pics of my Nadia here when I got it and what it looked like after I pruned it at the advise of other older members here. I’m still kind of new to this after 5 years and would wait til others with more experience say what they would do til doing anything.

Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph the roots. It seems that the difference between my tree and yours, especially the Seckel (on the right) is the top where there are three really stout branches. There are a lot of wispier branches on the main trunk, but the big three make me think that tree may be past some point of not revitalizing the lower trunk. I keep thinking I want smaller trees, in the BOC style, so, here goes nuthin’ I guess. Thanks!

One other thing I want to try is to tie down the branches that I don’t remove to about horizontal. (Plan as of this moment:) I’m going to leave a couple extra branches on and hope that having all of the branches tied down will help to balance out the equation.