How do I prune this? (Black Oxford)

I put in this Black Oxford tree and it’s now in its third year. When I got it, it looked like a candidate for an open center, but it doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo as it’s now growing a strong leader with only one other potential trunk and one much weaker one. What would you recommend for pruning?
(if it matters, the deer have carefully snapped off most of the terminal buds also).

Here’s another view, looking down more. Notice there’s a weak branch at the base pointing at the camera.

Is it a standard rootstock or dwarf? If you want to control the ultimate height, you need to top it to force the buds below to grow new scaffolds. After that you can encourage certain buds on the central leader to grow a scaffold by notching about 1/4” above the bud. Then you will need to continue each year to prune in direction you wish growth to continue. Once you have the central leader growing your desired scaffolds, you may just prune off that lower limb to achieve a well rounded growth pattern. If you wait too many years to top, you will get a lot of difficult to control sucker growth where you top it. Topping it now can prevent that agony that I am currently experiencing with my 20 year old Tomkins King
Kent, wa

I’d remove the limbs under 30 inches or so…other pruning might be postponed.
You didn’t mention the rootstock.

And add a stake if straight is of concern. On MM111 or 106 or M7 it shouldn’t matter.

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It’s a semi dwarfing rootscock, but I don’t remember which one.

Could you elaborate on moving limbs under 30 inches. That would be almost all of them.

Hmmmm…at the least, remove the big one about a foot off the ground.
You mentioned deer…they’ll probably eat all the others off for you.
If you let the central leader alone, your apple crop is going to be above
the reach of deer someday.

How High is this exactly? It looks about 6 feet. I think this depends on how badly you want the open center, what your consideration for deer is and what your goal for the ultimate height of the tree. Some people much more experienced than me have already commented.

I have chosen to prune everything I have to the open center so I would either take the 3 branches on the main leader and remove the leader to the top one if I felt that was not too high up. You could stake it more upright and it would look ok.

If I wanted to keep that very low scaffold I would try to prune it fairly hard to see about taking the leader down to the one of the weak side branches and pruning that less hard. It might look a bit awkward but I have a Golden russet that chose to do that.

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Yes, just proves there is more than one option on doing things. Heavy crops can split trees in the open center, but it’s only occasional. Sounds like the deer is an issue…and the rootstock is still a question.

Oddly enough my Arkansas Black has remained a fairly twiggy tree with small branches. I don’t know the rootstock. It still managed to hold at least 15 nice sized apples until early December! Not a single one was lost.


Your tree is an excellent example to start training it into the shape you desire. Here is the best video I have seen on how you can begin training it. Good luck. I have four one year old dwarf apple trees on G890 rootstock that I will be trying this spring.

the following video seems to directly address the question at hand, starting at about the 23 minute mark:


Before You Cut Back Your New Fruit Tree, Watch This! Training by Notching and Dis-budding & pruning

You sure that’s Arkansas Black? Did you take a pix of the apples later in the season from this picture you posted?

It’s about 8 or 9 feet to the top. I would remove the bottom scaffold for sure if I switch to central leader, it’s only about a foot off the ground.

Thanks for reminding me. Not sure what I was thinking when I posted. It’s actually Black Oxford, a Maine Apple.

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I’m sure it’s Arkansas Black by the ridiculous strap I have supporting the limbs. I didn’t do that on any other tree.

They were covered by footies dipped in surround while on the tree. That is changing their color in the photo I think.

Here is a pic of some of the harvest.


They are really good looking! :heart_eyes:

Thanks! After a good bit of time in storage they were quite tasty too.

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They allways have to be stored? They can stand on tree?

I put them in refrigerator storage in early December and didn’t have any until at least a month later. Just off the tree they are really hard and not very good eating.

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Well here will be diferent i think… but my tree is small so i will have to wait some years. :+1: