Pruning my Rainier

Planted a local nursery-bought Rainier Cherry last spring. It had 5 long branches near the bottom and a spire of a leader going to 6 ft (the 5 branches started at about 1ft). Tree didn’t do much last year getting established.

I realize now I had a perfect form to cut out the center for a UFO training, but instead I cut back the 5 branches to get it to branch out.

This year, the tree has grown like crazy and it’s only June. 2-3ft branches in every direction, off the original branches, up the entire length of the trunk, and off the top.

I’m not sure what to do with it at this point. Is it too late to cut out the center? There is so much growth! The pictures don’t do it justice.


I don’t think it’s late even now in winter. I’m sure the lower branches will grow very quickly.

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Here’s how it’s looking now - still in winter up here. I messed up my cherry shapes, I meant to go say open center/KGB pruning not UFO. Still learning. Caliper of the main leader is about 1" right now. Can I prune it all out at once?

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I believe you can cut out the center now. You will have delayed the growth on the laterals by a year, but in the greater scheme of things, that is no big deal. You are learning as you do. I would cut the center out, about 20-24 inches above the ground, so you leave the bottom four or five sideways growing branches. They will grow out very strongly this year.

I would basically do the same thing. I see a nice clear vase shape already in those low branches.

Once you cut out the leader and create the vase, I would additionally shorten the size of the new growth to 20 cm aprox, more or less following the spanish bush system, to promote fruiting spurs from the base of the branches. This way of prunning would then require you to shorten again the new growth as soon as it reaches 60 cm, during the growing season.

I don’t really know the KGB system well, but for what I understand about it, you wouldn’t shorten the new year growth.

Depending in what system you follow, things will differ.

It’s looking a lot better now, I think! Just need to make another pass on it and prune up last year’s growth.

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How did the tree do? I just remembered this post suddenly

I believe it is laughing at me, honestly. And challenging me to prune it some more.



Heavy pruning = more pruning, but once it settles down a bit and the younger branches get older, things will get much easier.

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Looking great, shows great vigour!

I would definitely shorten all that new growth to something in between 25/15 cm in a summer pruning now. It sounds aggressive but it works great in forming new branches and fruiting spurs.
When the tree is growing so well, it will respond quickly to the pruning sprouting again, and therefore you form the tree structure much quicker.

It’s basically how the Spanish Bush pruning method works, but other modern pruning systems for cherries also take advantage of summer pruning and vigorous shortening of new growth


I’ll be giving it a haircut sometime soon. We went about 40 days without any rain (exceptionally unusual) and now we’ve gotten rain 4 out of the last 5 days! Also have a bit of a powdery mildew situation, so I want everything to dry out first.


Went out and gave the summer haircut! We’ll see how the tree feels about this. If it’s anything like last year, I’ll have new 4ft shoots by September.