Pruning/training nut trees

Just wondering what people do to train nut trees specifically shell and shagbark hickory I’m growing along my northside property line that i want to grow straight up for about 20ft before branching (ie grow above smaller trees/bushes and above power lines to house before branching. Is it as easy as just pruning off all the branches but the leader each winter or is another approach better? Thoughts @Barkslip Thanks

Do you even have to train hickory trees? Every one I’ve ever seen has naturally grown a central leader with good horizontal branches. The lower branches typically drop off as the canopy develops anyway, so if you’re patient you should get your 20 foot trunk w/o branches, though that may take decades of growth. They’re so slow growing I would be afraid of pruning off very much wood.

I know grafted pecans have to be pruned for good structure, while seedling trees typically don’t. Maybe hickories are the same?


Try to grow the branches as lateral as you can and once it’s a height you cannot work on any-longer, let it go.

Bill Reid talks about stalked buds with pecans. You might read about that:


Thanks i guess what im trying to say is i’d rather keep them branchless until they’re roughly 15ft high. Could accomplish via bud wiping or spring/winter pruning to trunk annually or alternately just let them grow how they want and start cutting off lower branches when they reach desired height…any thoughts as to one way or the other being more effective (ie getting trees tall/to form an upper canopy layer faster). Thanks

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It’s easy. Get them to above deer browse. I also paint where my graft unions are so I will always know.

From there as the trees get larger, bring your trees canopies up higher.

I did a post about above deer browse & here it is:

I rubbed growth off that same tree yesterday below my paint.

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