Limb bending experience on nut trees or berries

I’ve been impressed with results folks are having bending limbs of fruit trees, but has anyone applied this technique to almonds or other nut trees or even berries like elderberries or blueberries?

1 Like

In my experience peach, nectarine, apricot, and blueberries set excess bloom even on branches pointing straight up or straight down as long as the branches are well exposed to light. So I don’t think bending is needed. Just proper pruning to keep the canopy open. Almonds should be like peach.


I agree on all except apricots. I had some white apricots not fruiting after 8 years and limb bending finally got them going. I was going to get a ton this year for the first time, but the freeze did in most of the crop.

@JustAnne4, I’m not sure nuts need any bending, based on my limited experience they don’t fruit more on horizontal limbs.


So how do you explain the data that show improvement on blooms and fruiting with people who do keep the center open? Is this a way to ‘traumatize’ or stress the tree into production? There’s just too much data like the person on this forum (can’t find it now) that just pulled one branch down on his tree and that is the only branch that fruited. How do you explain this?
Do y’all feel that once the tree starts fruiting well this is not needed? What about when it’s fruiting poorly?

That’s a way to improve light on the shoots that remain.

1 Like

OK I found some data from @thecityman that needs explanation and I’m not sure your explanation covers this case.

While I had read this b4, I was a bit dubious. Then last year in an
attempt to get a Red Rome Apple Tree to spread out a little I tied one
limb out and down. I got a little carried away thinking that over time
it would come back up so I tied it pretty much horizontal. This year
the only limb on that tree that is blooming (absolutely covered in
blooms!) is the one I tied down! Its an amazing contrast for anyone who
wonders of tying limbs really does promote fruiting!


That’s right I didn’t include apples in my statements. Bending is often needed on apples and pears.


I, too, have been quite interested and somewhat facinated with branch bending after seeing the results first hand. Here is a more detailed explanation I thought you might enjoy reading. The source of this information is given in a link at the end.

Apical dominance

The gravitational force responses to spreading or bending are the result of a phenomenon called apical dominance.

Apical dominance regulates growth via two plant hormones. Firstly, a plant hormone called cytokinin, which is produced in root tips, moves up the tree and breaks dormancy at the highest points (tip buds) in the tree.

When the tip buds start to move, another plant hormone called auxin is produced in the actively growing shoot tip. As auxin moves down the shoot by gravity, it stops lateral buds below the tip from developing and branching.

Apical dominance is strongest in vertical shoots where auxin moves downwards and accumulates uniformly in buds, stopping them from developing lateral shoots.

The effect becomes weaker with increasing distance from the tip. As buds become more distant from the tip, they are released from the auxin influence and may develop lateral shoots.

Apical dominance varies between species and ­varieties, and is very strong in apple and pear.

Bending and arching affect apical dominance differently

As shoots or branches are bent away from a vertical position, auxin and cytokinin are no longer concentrated in the tip, and the number and length of lateral shoots are increased while extension growth is decreased.

If shoots or branches are arched below the horizontal, apical dominance by the bud at the tip is lost.

Auxin accumulates in the lower side of the shoot or branch, and cytokinin accumulates in the uppermost buds on the curve of the shoot or branch.

These buds, which are no longer under any apical control, develop into new upright shoots as the tree seeks to reestablish apical control in the shoot or branch.

Thus, spreading or arch bending can have a profound effect on shoot growth, which can then later affect ­precocity and yield.

The above text was taken from the April 10, 2014 issue of Good Fruit Grower Magazine and is here in its entirety:


@fruitnut Steven, but it appears that there is an application of bending to plums & derivatives thereof to address excess vigor. My Sweet Treat pluerry is out of control despite summer and winter pruning for ‘size control’. Yeah well, that didn’t work, LOL. For every cut, five more vigorous shoots resulted. From @thecityman’s reference and others I’ve read, it seems to have a serious hormone imbalance :wink:. I fed it no nitrogen. Burgundy plum and Flavor Supreme pluot are not as unruly and flowered and set fruit inversely proportional to vegetative vigor, with Sweet Treat setting least.
I considered girdling and got the special knife but bending seemed less violent. Girdling seems to have a similar effect on the distribution of hormones. I may do a little of both.
So my conclusion is that trees other than apples might benefit. Yes?

1 Like

Plants are way different from each other. I have always thought a one size fits all approach is incorrect. You certainly could experiment. I bend fruit trees to allow more light in, keep harvests easier to pick, and give an interesting shape to a fruit tree. Many reasons exist as to why limbs are bent. I don’t grow apples, so I don’t bend for production. First I guess what are you trying to accomplish?
On your Sweet Treat try to only do summer pruning. Winter pruning stimulates vigor more so than summer.
With blueberries proper pruning stimulates production, as Steve mentions branch angle doesn’t matter with blueberries.Removing older canes, heading canes back to new growth, removing weak or small canes, opening center up will stimulate production, produce bigger berries, and give more sugar to the berries.
I have some Nigra elderberries that are new to me, Finnish cultivars. A new pruning method with these cultivars is to treat like summer bearing raspberries and remove one year canes after fruiting. I have first year canes and they are looking to be bursting with flower clusters. I’ll remove them after fruiting, and allow this year’s canes to grow.



It may not have anything to do with the limb bending…

You heard of biannual bearing apples, maybe you have the octo-annual bearing apricots:imp::wink:

Just putting it out there.



Yes, I think its an attack of the dreaded octo-orchard-pus!! :octopus: :octopus: :octopus: :octopus: :octopus: :octopus: :octopus: :octopus:

@JustAnne4, my Sweet Treat was also far too vigorous and I did significant limb bending on it to get it under control. Many of my other plums are topworked onto older stocks, and those all need bending as they are hard to keep low otherwise - they want to grow straight up given all the force in the 10+ year old stock. Plums that were not topworks and which had plenty of sun did not need any limb bending. I also have very little limb bending on cherries as they naturally form wider crotches.


Well clearly I need to (and want to ) understand the underlying basic principles of why this works the way it works. I stubbornly hold to the belief that if you understand the basic principles then you can put those principles to work for you in a variety of applications. Not sure I accept the ‘gravity’ explanation given for hormone transport, so I’m left without one, LOL.

I did Drew. I started in May when it took off like it is now. I couldn’t keep up with its growth. The more I cut the more it grew. I gave up in August to wait for cooler weather.

My blueberries are full of flowers turning to berries, but my elderberries, which I make a flu remedy from, is pitiful. I can harvest wild if I need to as Sambucus Canadensis nigra populates our local streams and reservoirs. Just curious about how to get this fruiting better.

Pruning the older wood out would help on the elderberries. As I mentioned I have the Finish cultivars Samyl and Samdal, and they were just planted last spring. Both developed 2 canes only. The larger cane on both have 6-7 flower clusters. These elderberries look like winners to me!
Elderberries are the easiest plant in the world to propagate. Just stick green cuttings in the dirt. Start more plants, Maybe they are just done and time to start over with new plants.
Sounds like Scott’s wood bending would help with Sweat Treat, good luck with it! Keep us updated.


Oh thanks for posting Scott. Good to know these creatures exist and that the orchardist lives to tell about it. :grinning:
I’m thinking about putting up a trellis for an espalier-type of arrangement to make limb orientation easier. Wouldn’t it be nice if the rate of hormone transport was directly proportional to the angle of the branch! (I’m ready to hang Sweet Treat upside down, LOL) This will also allow me to more easily protect the fruit from birds.
Good to know about the cherries. I just got 3 this year. I’m excited.

Yes thankfully. I propagted them and sold lots of them on Craig’s list.
It seems last year they flowered twice. First on previous year’s wood then on current season’s wood - but not as much. I think you’re right about, in a sense, renewing the plants, but none of the ‘canes’ are over 1" in diameter.
Haha, maybe it’s time for kikapoo joy juice. :grinning: :grinning: :grinning:

Last year I pulled two branches horizontal on a Lapin cherry. It is just starting to flower now with the most flowers on the vertical branches and the least on the horizontal branches. Maybe it will be different next year, maybe not.

1 Like