How do I train/prune this apple to a weep?

A couple years ago I posted up about pruning my apple tree that produced some not-so-good apples.

Alan recommended removing the water sprouts and training/pruning it to a weep. Sounded like a good plan to me. I removed about 40% of the water sprouts in 2017, and just this winter had some help from an arborist pruning the tree to start structuring and (mostly) getting out the fire blight (hailstorm 2 years ago).

I have a concept of a weeping tree in my mind, but have no idea how I should structure this tree to get to that end form. Ideally it would be low enough to manage easily, but high enough to avoid the deer. I’ll also be trying my hand at grafting to this tree, given the apples aren’t desirable.

How do I get to a weep from here?

2017, before starting:


Tie the ends of the branches to weights or an anchor in the ground. Cut anything going straight up. I did a few like that using stakes as anchors. Takes close to a full season for it to stay in place. The main thing is you want them to harden off for the winter in that position, but still needs to be done while the branches are flexible.

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Thanks, Robert.

Most of the verticality is now out. I’m trying to understand what the primary structure should be, if it is more open-vase, or has limbs growing in the center. If there should be any vegetative headed up from the major limbs, and if so, how far.

If anyone knows of a diagram that would show the target structure, that would really be wonderful.

The tree already has ample weeping wood and only needs to have upright wood removed and then you can thin what’s left to the wood with most flowers until at least there is no touching wood. You can wait until buds begin to swell and flower buds are obvious, or even until bloom for established trees like this with no harm to tree.

Go to guides for my method of pruning based on diameter to gradually create a balance of structural to bearing wood.


Cool - thanks for the guidance. I wasn’t quite following this:

I’m getting ready to try grafting a few apple varieties, based on your prior recommendation. What is a good strategy for grafting scionwood to this tree? Pick one major branch that points (up, down, horizotal?) and cut it, then graft into the end of it with multiple grafts. Or ‘power drill graft’ into the side of it so that the main branch remains, but side branches are a different variety? I’m a bit clueless on this front!

I use upright annual wood close to the trunk and well exposed to light utilizing a simple splice graft of same diameter wood. After it grows upright for a year or 2 I use an existing scaffold to help tie the graft to closer to horizontal as it grows and eventually remove the original scaffold when it’s no longer needed to help me train the graft.


Thanks, that is invaluable insight!