I am confused or just hesitant to make the cuts without some expert advice. I have this little pear tree that I would like to graft over. I am not sure if I should cut off and graft both main scaffolds, or if one has to be kept as a nurse branch and then removed because of the angles they are growing at.
If you are only planning to graft one variety to it, I would wait until it starts leafing out, decapitate it just below the fork, and bark graft to the stump.
If you want more than one, then you’ve got a choice between long term structural integrity, and near term gratification. I usually choose the latter, in which case I’d one variety to each respective main branch.
When the crotch splits and half the tree goes down, I’ll have already enjoyed years of two varieties of pears and look at all of the other trees you have in the orchard Plus, the tree probably won’t actually die from it, and you will still have one variety on the wounded lopsided tree.
You could also experiment with inarching or other grafting to connect the two halves of the tree to add some structural integrity.
So if I choose to do two grafts, one on each main scaffold, I won’t hurt the tree by decapitating it?
Hopefully your grafts will take and grow a new top for it this summer. If they don’t a bunch of sprouts will pop out on the trunk, the sprouts probably will pop out even if the grafts take and you will need to remove them to keep them from starving the graft.
I’m a little disappointed to hear your take on the fork and the confidence you seem to have that sooner or later it will split! Is that much much true? I say that because I have quite a few trees that start out with a fork like that. (pruning has always been my weakness). I always thought that was sort of a good thing and a way to accomplish the hour-glass shape, especially when subsequent growth on the forks is all done to force growth to the outside and not allow it grow toward the middle. Sounds like I’m in for some trouble in the future! Does this apply to peaches as well? Thanks
The problem with that fork is that the leftward branch is attached at a bad angle, so that when it grows the union will include bark. That automatically makes for a weak crotch. If you wanted a vase you would want limbs that were roughly closer to 90 degrees with the trunk, up to maybe 60 degrees.
Another way to look at it is that you have two leaders that will be competing with each other. They will each send branches into the other’s space and make for a pruning kerfuffle.
Pruning has always been my weakness too, so I have to keep it simple as I can.
Cityman, I’m not certain it will split, its just what I’d expect to happen. The left side limb is too steep and looks like it already has included bark. If left to its own devices, I’d expect the left side to eventually split or break off.
I have trees as bad or worse. My trees look like they’ve been pruned by a clown.
So I guess it is " Off with it’s head"! I will make the necessary cuts, remove the left side and graft over the right. Gee it is really hard, how do you guys manage such brutal pruning and not stress, I am stressed just thinking about it.
Experience. Do it enough times and your heart hardens a little with each beheading.
In fact, I headed two third leaf cherries yesterday that I want to grow in a bush form. I should have done it last spring - I’d have a shot at fruit this year - but I didn’t come across the information until early May and couldn’t bear to make the cuts (thought I’d have fruit on one’ but no). In the end I took off five feet of growth from four different scaffolds on one and three feet from the slower growing of the two, leaving four or five scaffolds that will ultimately, probably next year, produce about 20 shoots that I will trim back to 12-15 each year for fruit production (KGB system). I think I quietly said “ouch” three or four times while making the cuts, but stopped thinking about it within three minutes because I know it will pay off many times over in the long run with a bush I can harvest without a ladder.
So, just an update I took the plunge and didn’t keep any of the forked branches. I lopped it off and bark grafted two scions to the top. It branched out well, I am liking the shape as it will be much easier for me to work with as it grows.
Thanks every one.
Seeing some nice branch angles there. Just make sure that the central leader doesn’t have to fight for it’s rights as king!
Young branches on my pear curl towards the sun like crazy and I think I can see some that on your tree. I would love it if somebody would chime in on the best way to manage that, but maybe that’s for a new thread.
Anyhow, your tree looks great and happy. Control the upright vertical growth with weights or tie-downs, keep it simple, and plan your next move …
I went out after I read your comment and trimmed it so there are no lower branches competing with the central leader and managed to accidentally snap off the long branch growing across the front of the tree and out growing the leader. Oh well it still looks good.
I did not trim the scions yet, I am still getting up the courage. Plus I am not sure if I should just cut them back, or completely cut out the branches on the scions that are competing.