Open Center Training

Reading various reference materials, I note there appears to be two different approaches to training a newly-planted whip to an open center, and also to subsequent scaffold training.

The first approach that I am most familiar with involves immediately heading the whip or feathered tree near the desired height of the first set of scaffolds and to begin training new growth or appropriately placed branches in the appropriate angle or orientation.

The second approach involves leaving the leader in-place until such time that the scaffolds are approximately 18" long before removing it. One big question I have about this approach is how one induces appropriately-placed scaffolds on a whip in this approach? Maybe by employing notching?

Following, there also seems to be some difference in approach to scaffold-management. Some texts suggest making a heading cut when the scaffolds are approximately 18" long while others suggest against this (particularly with peaches/nectarines/apricots/plums). I am again curious how one develops forked laterals without heading?

Overall, I am curious if anyone has used both of these approaches and found one works better than the other or otherwise has tried various open-center training strategies and has any advice/lessons-learned?

Thank you for your help. I sincerely appreciate it!


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I have attached two excerpts outlining the different open center training approaches described in the previous post.

The first is from Mr, David Schlabach’s “Backyard Fruit Production”.

The second is from Dr. Dan Barney’s “Storey’s Guide to Growing Organic Orchard Fruits”.



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