I’ve heard people discuss notching to encourage fruiting and leafing but I’m curious as to how many of you have used this technique successfully. Is the description in my link accurate? Notch below a bud to make it fruit or notch above it to make it vegetative.
Seems like I confused notching with pruning to induce fruiting spurs formation in my previous edit:) As for notching, I tried that this technique on some 1-year young apple and pear trees to get branches where I wanted them, but I didn’t actually notice any difference between notched and not notched buds regarding their growth strength.
I bud notched a few apple trees last year where I wanted some new branches to grow. I used a hacksaw rather than a file, a few weeks before bloom. About 1/2 of the notches produced a branch. I did not have any Fireblight problems but I have read that the notch may provide a wound where fireblight bacteria can enter the tree. I also painted a growth hormone on 1 year old growth on some trees a few years earlier. I only painted 1/2 of each row as a control. I did not see any difference at all, but a lot of studies suggest this treatment with Maxcell should work.
I often notch just above a graft, especially if it appears slow to pop. For this purpose it appears to work pretty well. Never have used it as described above, but I think I will.
I have been notching for the last few years to increase branching on my young dwarf trees and even invested the $ to purchase some Promalin to encourage more branching. Well I notched most of my trees shortly before bloom last year and then it rained probably 10 days out of the 2 weeks the trees were in full bloom and I ended up up a pretty massive fireblight outbreak on my hands that killed 7 trees which was exacerbated by notching.
I still think notching is a good idea on young trees without much branching but just be aware if you are in a FB area of the potential to promote more FB.
Sorry to hear about your FB problem. Did all of your trees that died from FB get notched? I have quite a bit of “blind” wood where I need to stimulate some branches, but I’m scared of FB. My FB outbreak was in 2014 and I don’t want another one. I may try the Maxcell again without the bud notch this year.
I’ve had moderate response from notching over a bud to produce a branch where I wanted one. I have had the best response by notching 1-2 wks before leaf emergence. You can read articles about this technique on line under nicking and notching.
Because I have gotten mixed results from notching I have started selecting the desired buds that I want to grow and removing the others. I think this stimulates the trees survival mode and it pushes the remaining buds to grow. Bill
I do quite a bit of scoring which is much like notching. I mostly use it to get a branch to grow along the trunk where I want it, scoring maybe a third of the way around the trunk above the point I want to generate a branch. I prefer to do this around bloom, but it seems to work even when I do it during winter pruning.
On difficult to fruit varieties like N. Spy and even Fuji, I’ve used scoring to calm down the upper tiers and encourage fruiting. For this I make two halfway cuts around the trunk a couple inches apart just above the first tier of scaffolds. I usually do this along with pulling upper tier branches down below horizontal.
The combination works, but the most important thing is to remove over sized branches if you are growing free standing trees of varieties that like making wood more than fruit when they are young.
Sort of like Marknmt, I frequently notch above weak peach shoots when I want to form a new scaffold, in order to speed the growth of the small shoot. On smaller trees, I use my pruners (sort of as a knife) to take a small hunk out of the trunk above the shoot. On larger trunks I use my hand saw.
I found this article on heading vs notching vs BA application to promote branching in young apple trees. Looks like notching resulted in more, but shorter laterals, and larger trunk cross sectional area than heading. Although no difference in fruit per trunk area at MA site in 2009. Notching also performed comparably with chemical treatment. I plan to do a bunch of notching this spring to encourage more laterals on my 2nd leaf apple trees that have a lot of blind wood.
Blue, I notched almost all of my 50 or so dwarf trees, which were all young trees (under 3 years). Last year seemed to be a worst case scenario of FB conditions which I contributed to by fertilizing and notching before bloom. I will be notching and spraying Promalin again this year on a few of the trees with blind wood but will probably hold off applying N on those trees and make sure the 10 day forecast is for dry conditions.
Your trees are about the same age as mine. I’m torn between notching the blind wood to force laterals or juicing the trees with nitrogen to get them to the top wire or doing both considering the potential for a major FB outbreak. Conditions in my area are perfect for FB most years, probably like yours. I’m learning to manage it by spraying in front of each rain during bloom, but its a much more time consuming then I expected.
Its has taken me several extra years to get my trees into the proper form. I could have solved most of the problem by just starting with the “perfect” dwarf tree with a lot of feathers and no larger diameter laterals.
I have no experience with Fire Blight. Would a pruning sealer on the cuts help to prevent FB from entering the living wood?
That’s a good question. I’d think it would.
Curious as to why nitrogen increases fire light risk.
So it doesn’t sound like anyone has tried or is in agreement that notching below a bud can stimulate fruiting?
It increases fireblight risk because it is tender new growth that is first infected. Slow growing trees without a lot of big succulent shoots are less vulnerable. The nitrogen only increases susceptibility when it spurs more vigorous growth.
Other diseases are more prevalent when this softer growth occurs, especially in lawns.
Notching below does stimulate fruiting, that is why scoring is done. It is the area above the scoring that tends to become more fruitful. It reduces sap flow with its water and nitrogen which encourages vegetative growth and the dammed up carbos are utilized for fruit production.
I decided I would try notching this spring. The central leader on my combo apple has a 16 inch portion where none of the buds have grown since I planted the tree. This particular tree is growing like an espalier all in a single plane. I need a scaffold that is perpendicular to the other scaffolds. So last month before the tree broke dormancy I created a small notch into the wood directly above an ideal bud in an attempt to create a scaffold. I just noticed that the bud that I notched over is now pushing leaves. I don’t know what this will end up looking like but I’m confident the notch pushed growth.
As an additional test I side grafted a granny smith scion 180 degrees from this one a little lower down the leader in an attempt to see if I can get one growing in the opposite direction. We will see.
Feel the power!
I had great success with notching apple trees last spring. I’d say 80-90% of the notches produced a branch.
A couple of my 2nd leaf trees also had runaway leader growth. On these I basically ringed the leader with a utility knife after reading that doing so can slow it down. In the photo you can see that I did three on one leader. Interestingly, the tree flowered and fruited adjacent to those cuts, but had few fruits on the rest of the tree. You can see the old attachment points for the apples. Very cool, I can definitely see using this as a means to get a tree fruiting early, but perhaps ringing it much lower on the tree would be better than my upper leader focus here. I should mention that the leader still grew very strong this year, so my original objective was not met, but I’ll take some fruit buds any day. There doesn’t appear to be buds for the coming year though.