Espalier Apple Trees Rework - 2016 Updates

FWIW Dr Reams said that the formation of seeds requires the element manganese and consequently won’t bloom if the roots haven’t reached/attracted enough Mn to be able to form seed. Something to consider.

So here’s what my espaliers looked like before and after the trim. This year, I let them grow wild from spring until today, Aug 1st, before making the summer pruning.

Observation?

  1. I think I see some 1/2 stubs, supposedly the flower stubs.
  2. Lower rungs growth was not as strong as top
  3. Cedar rust started to take hold of my trees.

I’m just wondering if these stubs would reverse to leave stubs for the remaining 2017 season since I pruned off quite a bit as shown in the pictures.
I’ll have to wait for next spring to get the correct answer!

Before…

After…

And the wasted growths…

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@tomIL

Did you prune down to 3-4 leaves on the upright shoots?

That worked for my espaliers

Mike

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I was in the frenzy of tidy up the trees so I did not count but I believed the majority is down to 3, 4 leaves. I’ve also cut off the weak, crosses, diseases and any growth that’s not in place.

Not much to report until some flowers to show next spring!

I’m sure I’ll make another pruning before this year winter set in and last tidy up before spring growth next year…

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My 3 or 4 leaf all seem to be 4- 5 inches from the branch. I clip them back and they regrow the same.

Keep clipping and the shoot will realize … “Hey I can’t become a tree so I might as well turn to flowering buds.”

Mike

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I’m no expert here but I think letting new growths build some height say like 1-3 feet before pruning off down to 3,4 leaves from breakout point, probably is best way to store enough energy for flowering buds making process…

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@tomIL

The following is not based on any empirical research that I can quote, but what follows is what worked for and makes sense to me.

For espaliers we don’t need a huge amount of food storage in the roots because we don’t want vegetative growth to explode in the spring. I want to stunt those uprights right now.

In my experience, once the tree is established, I start keeping it in check from now through the fall; often making repeated passes to pinch off any new growth that is shooting skyward.

I am trying to stress the tree to force it into “survival mode” to produce seeds. (surrounded by fruit, of course😀)

Mike

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Interesting method, I have some trees I am trying to espalier and to that end I have been reading up on the Lorrette system of pruning which is, I think, what you are doing. They suggest continual pruning off the shoots as they start to lignify thru the summer.

I have no results or data to back up or refute the Lorrette system, but this summer I am trying it on a few trees.

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need updates

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Well, I did the Lorrette pruning the summer of 2017 on a few trees. My season is short so I did not get enough growth to keep pruning the shoots thru the summer as he suggests. I found that the shoots along the main branch that were pruned to 1/4 inch did not have enough time to form flower buds or new shoots and stayed mostly dormant.
I did not do it in 2018, but this spring, on 3 of the 6 trees that were pruned this way, I have flower buds all along the main branch where I had cut the shoots to the required 1/4 inch, and had trimmed the tips in the summer. Who knows if this would have happened anyway.

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@tomIL Did you ever get flowers in ‘18 or ‘19?

Any updates you could give us on this espalier?

My apology for late response. There were no flower for 2018 & 2019, so nothing to report. This year, 2020, there’re some green leaves popping out so far but I’ve not seen any flower bud yet. Today, woke up to witness snow covering everything!

I guess I would have to wait until a bit warmer for more growth in order to see if there’s any flower cluster this year. I’ve never imagined growing espalier apples would take 10 years (and counting…) of effort! I have successes with peaches, pears, cherries, plums, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, figs, kumquats, pomegranates and even started seeing pawpaw’s flower buds this year. My espalier apples are still refusing to cooperate…

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I have a neighbor with a honeycrisp espalier, he says it’s been there, just growing green leaves, for the last ten years. It’s always been nicely trimmed, just never has got around to fruiting. It looks about ten feet high with many arms. Just wanted to add some consolation, it has happened to others than you!

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I have followed this thread but cant remember what rootstock and variety you are espaliering?

It was M111

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Is it possible you get too much nitrogen from lawn fertilizer? Can you do a organic phosphorous and potassium fertilizer and withhold N completely. Its so strange how vigorous your apples are and that they will not put on spurs, what if they are not the named variety and are tip bearers?

I spiked fertilizer these espaliers in its first 3 years after planting to encourage growth/formation and none thereafter. These tree came from Dave Wilson so I believe they’re true to names…

2 years ago, I’ve also grafted a few different varieties onto some arms to prove this tip bearers possibility. I hope to gleam an answer by some flower clusters from these grafts…

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Do you think m111 is suited for espalier? I think that may be why you are not seeing fruiting results like you planned. JAT. All of my espalier on b9 produced fruit 2nd year after grafting.

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