Help needed with tip bearing apple tree

I have a young apple tree on G41 that is tip bearing type. I noticed today that it is very unbalanced. North-East part of the tree (circled red on first picture) to my surprise is much more full than South-East side. It is also struggling to define a center leader. Two years in a row I leave one that is going up, and it grows a lot of new ones around it that grow faster and better. Today, when I looked closely, I can see that the branch that goes North-East is as thick as the trunk that goes up from it.(circled red on second picture) Looks like the tree decided that this branch is a trunk. Do I have now to cut whole branch? I think it will be equivalent to taking 30% of the tree.

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You dont “have” to do anything. You can do things that will help in the long run though. You definitely have a branch that many of the “experts” would say needs to go it increase your yield. However, you could do some severe pruning and achieve a better balance. What are your goals for this tree for size and overall shape? Are you looking for a traditional central leader style tree or are you looking for a more open centered looking tree. How about size. Are you looking to keep it smaller than the G41 willx or are you looking to fill in that 8 -10 foot tall tree?

If it were me, I’d trim off anything on that NE branch what went up in more than about a 5°angle, and allow that branch to stay on, but pick a leader and keep trimming to keep it the central leader. Once I got to my desired height, i would continue to prune to keep it balanced and allow good air and light penetration.


It is interesting with G41. I have two trees on it, and both do the same. Horizontal branch turns almost 90 degrees upright about 18-20 inches from the trunk. So ends are always look up. So if I prune everything of that NE branch that goes up - it will be mostly everything on it…
I am planning to have an 8’ tree, preferably not too wide, as space in somewhat an issue in my tiny yard. I thought it should be a center leader tree, but I am not sure if this is what it should be now when I know it is tip bearing…

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What variety of apple are you growing on G41.

Different varieties and different rootstocks have different growth habits. Chances are, you should have pruned off that branch when it was young. Now you have a dilemma with what to do with it.

I would still prune off the upward growths on that branch, and tie down the end to make a more horizontal branch with what’s left. That will reduce vigor and cause it to do more flowering/spurring and less vigorous growths. I would suggest that with many of the branches you intend to keep.

A well thought out pruning this year will set you up for years of fruiting/pruning with minimal set back. The wrong cuts will set you back or reduce your abilities to get a good amount of fruit off the tree.


One of them is Ashmed’s Kernel. This one is Russian variety called Korichnoe Polosatoe, scion wood received from USDA.


Is it the K. P. that is supposed to be tip-bearing? Ashmead’s is spur-bearing as far as I know.

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I admit I am not good at shaping and pruning my trees. I have watched so many videos and read so much about pruning but my trees don’t seem to grow the way I have panned!!!

Have you seen Skicult video on pruning. Good illustration, easy to understand.

My Fuji is on G41. I’ve pruned it to a modified a modified central lead shape. Unfortunately, it is a partial shade so growth is somewhat lopsided based on sun exposure.

If you want your tree short, modified central lead would be my choice for a tip bearer tree. Open center or delay open center have potential to grow a lot taller than your want.

I hope you have enough varieties to pollinate Ashmead Kernel. It is tripliod. It is best if you have two other varieties to help cross pollinate it. My AK is surrounded by 10+ varieties of apples. It set one fruit last year.


Yes, KP is tip bearing. Ashmed 's Kernel I didn’t have any crops from, but it has a lot of spurs.

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My AK set few last year, as well as Yellow Transparent, but all of them dropped. I have in close proximity AK, YT and Antonovka. Then about 30’ distance Ginger Gold and KP. And in 50’ distance Gold rush. Also there are unknown huge apple tree in my neighbor’s yard(red apples ready in early fall and not any variety I know) about 100’ distance.

For KP, I decided to keep the branch. I used heavy weights to pull everything down and now I have a full horizontal “skirt” on one side of the tree and and more light skirt on the other side. I kept the leader and need to buy spreaders for thin branches bellow it to make next layer of branches.

I don’t know what cross pollinated my AK. It is on a multi grafted tree. Fruit dropping often is a sign of unsuccessful cross pollination. Crab apples seem to be the best cross pollination partners of regular apples.

I don’t think the problem was in pollination. Something affected both trees last year - may be excessive heat, may be too strong Immunox solution I used on cherry tree near by before covering it up, may be some diesease, but both trees started to loose leaves suddenly - they turned yellow with spots and dropped. At the same time all the fruit dropped as well.

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I notice you have the tree staked for support which is good given it tendency to break off at the graft union. I have several thoughts.:

  1. It’s not too late if you graft, to order a G890 rootstock to plant near this one. You could then take some scionwood from this tree or another crosspollinating variety and graft to the new rootstock. Eventually when the G890 grows up, you could connect the two trees via a union graft to provide a hedge like structure and keep both more balanced by pruning. The G 890 semi dwarf, a more stable rootstock could help stabilize this tree if connected. Collect scion wood now while dormant and trade with someone who has good cross pollinating varieties
  2. Alternatively, if you graft, you could shorten, not remove the large branch that weighs so heavily and add by a side graft some lower new branches on the south and east sides. It could be that if you remove about half of this larger limb, it would grow new lower level branches.
    Kent, wa

It could be a great idea, if I have more space. This tree has just 6X6 spot and can’t get any bigger - my tiny yard reality multiplied by my admissions… :smiley:. There are blueberry bushes on the right and stairs going to the low portion of the yard on the left…

More reasons then to top it and rebalance it by pruning and grafting, letting it get higher risk a failed graft union break. Do you graft?

Dennis, can you clarify what you mean?

This is about a G-41 rootstock…

it may be about as large in the photo as it will get…
especially if it’s already cropped some.

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Sure, I mean that it’s better to crop the dominant limb to about half its present length and add more limbs by grafting below the cropped point using scion wood from the cropped limb or even better scionwood of a cross pollinating cultivar. Do not completely sever off the limb circled in red. It has a nice strong growth angle and can easily take more side branches at a lower level to fill in all the empty space. Letting it grow more and more each year only creates a strong bending moment against the trunk, particularly as the limb gets loaded with fruit. By adding lower level branches around the trunk, in all directions, the tree can bear more fruit in the future without compromising the weak graft union that G41 is known to have.

I did graft this one, but it was a bench graft. I do not have any successful field grafts so far out of 6-7… I do not think I am capable of what you suggesting.

You can check the forum member map created by speeder to see if someone nearby could help you graft it. Apples are very easy to graft.
Most grafters would be happy to help you!

Thanks, I may do so. But how critical is G41 issues? I know G11 is bad, but first time hear about G41. I found an article about G41, that suggests trellis. This I can do without any problem. I actually had that idea of 3D espalier where you have 5 fence posts - one in the center, and four on the corners of the spot where you can use wires to tie the branches as desired almost on any height. I may make one this summer.