Spurs peter out as they get older. I like to imagine I can tell by looking when a spur is about done for, but can I? What obvious indications would you follow if you wanted to thin out older spurs?
I may not know the exact answer to your question, but you seem to always generate questions that stimulate thinking! I would guess that any spurs on wood older than several years May? be the best ones to remove. Several qualifiers I would use would be: 1. Can they still get adequate sunlight? 2. Do I have adequate 1-2 year old wood that offers renewal spurs to grow? Most articles I have read on apple pruning encourage thinning and removal of older wood to assure adequate sunlight can penetrate the canopy and reach all fruit. They also emphasize the need for regeneration of 1-2 year old wood. I have never before thought about focusing on just identifying older spurs, rather it seems to me that as you thin out older wood and allow for new wood to usher in new fruiting spurs, you most probably are removing your oldest non productive spurs.
This is what I do and every year I seem to have to do some thinning.
Hope the helps, I have only spur bearing trees.
I think that gets to the point. What I’m running into with my Liberties, more than any other varieties on my frankenapple, is that the spurs have formed right on the main scaffold branches. On other varieties I’m starting to get the hang of removing older secondary wood, which has older spurs, in order to make room for newer secondaries. But the dern Liberty sets spurs everywhere, often multiple spurs on small, twisted twigs no more than a couple of inches long.
@alan has a very good piece on 1-2-3 pruning and that has been very helpful, but I’m finding it hard to apply to my Libs. This year I’m thinning spurs on the Libs like crazy and also heading back pretty severely. (I’m also grafting some of my Libs over to Karmijn de Sonnaville, which does well for me and is a great apple.
Thanks for your comments and the discussion - just being able to express it helps me visualize what needs to be done (maybe…)!
On Lib I leave a certain amount of less vigorous uprights and the spurs form on them that season that flower and fruit the following one. So those shoots are one years old, on the second year they from flower buds on that one year wood while sending out new wood ahead, and the following year there is vegetative one year wood beyond the flowering fruiting wood. You leave both as the vegetative wood helps feed the fruit. On the following year you remove all the shoots that had fruit to make room for the shoots you chose to replace them the year before. 1,2,3- it is the main source of fruit in most commercial orchards with most varieties. .
When I relocated in 2021 I dug up my liberty tree and planted it at my new site. It had a pretty good crop of flowers and seemed to want to hold the fruit. I plucked all them off except a couple. This year it has fruit buds everywhere as you mentioned. I first thought all the flowers were a result of it having a Bud 9 interstem but it seems to want to fruit somewhat like Goldrush. I like that it wants to fruit but I need to follow this thread cause I think I will need to know more going forward.
It may be because I pruned so ignorantly in the early days of this tree’s life, but I have trouble getting this Lib to form side branches to well-established branches. Your mileage may differ!