I’ve never top-worked where I had two different tiers of branches- one high and one low so have never seen how the tree responds… My question is: will this hat-rack tree funnel most of its resources to the top tier due to apical dominance? Pre-graft the lower tier had lots of leaves (now gone) to draw resources to that tier.
My bottom tier is the variety I really want to do well. Both top and bottom tier are moderate vigor varieties.
If you think the bottom grafts will grow just fine (assuming good technique) then all is well.
Thanks- Yes- I have lots of Goldrush on other trees so I’m going to prune off the leader just above the low tier. Learned something new but I should have known apical dominance would come into play. Will need to do this to three trees but glad y’all helped me figure it out now vs up the road.
I’ll bet he’s already done so! Sounded like he’d made up his mind.
But there is another alternative that works at least sometimes: notch just above the grafts on the lower tier. That should help isolate them from the hormonal influence of the higher grafts, at least as I see it, and give them a better chance to compete.
Thanks Mark- notching had crossed my mind to thwart the auxins or whoever they are. Am deliberating tonight, no action yet. As @oscar says I’d probably have to notch early and often (fireblight country here). Since the bottom varieties are the ones I have my heart set on growing, think I’ll sacrifice the top and simplify things with my saw. Or I could experiment as I’ve got three trees in the same boat.
I thought I’d made every apple mistake possible since 1974 but new ones keep cropping up. LOL. Thanks guys for strategy ideas- very much appreciated.
Before you decide to chop the top off and allow the lower level to grow, you may want to check Skilcult’s videos on a delayed open-center pruning style. You may be able to keep a few lower branch and a top branch for that style. (I have “re-designed” several of my pears and apples to be delayed open-center).
If you really want to chop off the top and keep all the lower branches, you are going to have an open-center apple tree (instead of a peach tree). That could be nice, too.
Thanks @mamuang. Yes I’ve done delayed open center training on a couple apples here. I’d eventually lose the top varieties going that route so might as well do the deed now. I should add I live in Fireblight Central so notching and frequent summer pruning of top would invite blight.
Scott posted a critical point I’d never heard before about topworking at roughly same level is key.
What a great and timely topic Steve. I’ve begun top working a malpruned apple at the new place. I probably removed @ 50% of the growth and I am sweating it after reading not to remove more than 25% of canopy cover.
It has been painful to cut up a healthy if insipid tree. I watched most of the Stephen Hayes in the UK’s youtube videos and he removes the majority of canopy.
@Quill I was going to urge you to whitewash newly exposed trunk and scaffolds but I see you’re in PNW- is your sun strong enough to warrant this? If yes, please do- I learned this the very, very hard way.
On your open center trees do you whitewash every year or two or leave a few verticals to shade the trunk and scaffolds? Does bark ever get accustomed to sun and stay healthy? Maybe not.
Suppose I could leave a short stub of the central leader and bark graft a couple scions for shading trunk and scaffolds, then would have to manage that growth to limit it. What do you think of that, anyone.
Sounds about like our skin. We Northerners have to be careful in the spring to gradually get back out in the sun. Seedlings grown inside are like that, too. It would make sense that trees could react similarly.