What I’ve found with pears is that when I tie a scaffold down to near horizontal any new growth beyond the tie down still grows straight to the sky. I end up with a menorah shape to the branches. Apples, plums, and other fruits all do this to some extent but pears in particular just love to grow vertically.
Trees establish much better of they aren’t competing with grass and other herbs, which not only compete for water and other nutrients but exude chemicals that are harmful to trees. That is the most important reason many of us keep a circle of weed-free mulch at the base of trees. 24" diameter rings are adequate although I prefer 5’.
Pears are best pruned sparingly where fire blight is an issue, but co-dominant leaders and excessively large branches still need to be removed, and the sooner the better (unless there is risk of extreme cold withing a few weeks)… If a branch is more than half the diameter of the trunk where the branch meets the trunk it needs to go.
I believe that it is usually the best approach to only prune excessively large branches and rubbing branches while the tree is establishing and that permanent scaffolds can be chosen after trees begin to bare because pruning of immature wood is almost always dwarfing and delays a trees establishment as a productive tree. Peaches are a bit of an exception to this rule, but that’s because they tend to bear by the second year in the orchard and they don’t produce purely vegetative wood. .
I agree @speedster1 completely if an orchardist is to aggressive with a pear and ties branches to far down horizontal the pear will respond with immediate vertical growth from the branch that is horizontal. Unfortunately my pears do that on their own to an extent from carrying a heavy fruit load. If people don’t like the straight up growth they prune it off which makes the tree send more vegetativ growth straight up. Now the tree is a great scionwood producer and a terrible fruit producer. Since I’m not a beaver I prefer to eat pears instead of wood so I prune gently and only when needed to get a minimal new wood growth. Typically in my soil at least the answer to people wanting short trees is use the right rootstock. So if someone wants a small European pear use ohxf333 rootstock because it’s fireblight resistant and stays small. If you want a small Asian pear use ohxf87 or 97 rootstock since they fruit faster and stay shorter. So you control a tree by rootstock and scionwood used ideally. Very perceptive on your part on the branch bending most people don’t see that far in the future and with pears you need to. I’m also not saying bending branches is a bad idea but rather there is a time and a place and an amount to bend them.
@alan like usual I agree with what your saying on not allowing large branches. Killing grasses and weeds within a perimeter of the tree is something else I agree on and it’s hard for me to enforce! Woodchips are the best way I found to do that and it’s a lot of work.
The general leave a lone as much as possible approach I take is more about getting fruit than following good pruning routines though they are the same thing to an extent. Here are a couple of my trees and how I’ve shaped them.
I know someone is going to look at that branch of yours and say how did that branch wind up growing downward and I will demonstrate one way that happens in the picture below where the branch is simply under weight. Our goal is to get fruit so note I took no immediate action to correct the branch growing straight down but other orchardists would have.
The sun is up so I know the branches will grow up to reach towards the light which means it’s the nature of a pear to grow up regardless of how much someone wants to change it. They grow straight up to get ahead of competing shrubs and grasses to Alan’s point. Even if there is no competition the pear is genetically bred to grow straight up. Notice when a farm is abandoned the pear lives and all the other fruit trees die and frequently the pear still produces fruit. I realize people like trees to be pretty but keep that in mind when pruning that the tree has good genetics and it can survive 20-100 + years without our help at all. Like a wild animal I feed the pear some and help it out some but I’m not trying to tame it. In the end my trees will most likely out live me.
That small branch growing downward had four large pears on it this last year…I had to support it but it ripened all four pears.
I have read some of the pruning articles and somehow it’s just lost on me… I can understand the concepts but when it comes to choosing what branch to cut I just can’t sort all that info out. Sometimes it makes me not want to try… sigh… so basically if I prune this winter it’s going to stimulate more upright growth??? But I need to prune in the winter to avoid FB? And I don’t need multiple thick branches going up… and what do you do when there are no lateral branches? They all seem vertical.
The easy way to handle tree #1 is trim off only branches crossing or so close together they are touching. Leave the remainder alone for now. If you look at the trees in my photo You get an idea what the basic shape is I’m suggesting.
Tree #2 needs a more agreesive approach because the tree is out of balance. I personally would wack off all the branches on the left and keep the central leader. I would trim the tips of the central leader in hopes it will send out horizontal growth further down. It’s a highly aggressive approach but how I would handle it. It would retaliate and send up and out tons of new growth next year which you would need to work hard to balance and prune while you shaped it. I like the concept of 1-3 large branches but some people take other approaches such as open center. I do not recommend an open center but many people prefer it for height and disease management which they are not wrong about. Whichever method you choose decide on it and stick with it. Thanks for posting those trees of yours they are growing like typical pears. Pear pruning frustrates some of the best orchardists in the world because they sometimes have sharp crotch angles and to much upright growth. The professionals don’t look very professional sometimes in a pear orchard.
Well…I feel like I’m taking over the thread…I have gone back and read the other thread on pruning that you linked to and that does help. Here is a close up, better picture of the back of that tree where all those branches come off. A small one actually goes almost 90 degrees from the large branch going to back side of that tree. All of these branches come off at about the same place. The largest one coming off is going to take much of that dense upright growth with it when it comes off. I’ve also marked the lowest branching that will be left when I take the other off. It’s way on up there. So will it send out branches for lower “scaffolds” that I would train and keep? Or is that marked branching going to be the lowest large branch that I get…it’s probably 4 to 4 1/2 feet from the ground.
Pictures of the Moonglow (not pictured before)
4 -4 1/2 up is much higher than it looks in the picture. What rootstock is that? If your not sure on the rootstock do you know if it will be full sized? My thought is you can’t leave it that way and you need to do some form of pruning to correct but that’s to far from the ground. Here is plan b which is leave 1 side branch and graft a branch to the other side to balance it using a side graft. You can see more about side grafting in this thread http://www.growingfruit.org/t/side-grafting/3791/20. This is a picture of side grafts I did which you could use to solve your problem.
You can use tipping to direct a branch to grow in a certain direction and to invigorate a tree as shown in this thread http://www.growingfruit.org/t/tipping-to-make-a-bushy-more-productive-fruit-tree/6890. I do very little pruning most of the time because I manipulate my young trees a great deal.
Thanks. I might try to do that. I bought these pears from Walmart or Lowe’s and have no idea of the rootstock. Neither of them are true to their label so I don’t even know what type of pears they are since the one that was supposed to be Kieffer obviously did not bear Kieffer fruit. 2 1/2 years ago when I bought them I had no idea how to buy a fruit tree other than “oh wow, let’s buy this and take it home and plant it!!” I didn’t even know what a rootstock was. Lol. I’ll work with it somehow. So I guess I could graft whatever on it, huh? Suggestions? I’m pretty sure the tree next to it is Orient
Clark, for Katy’s last picture, could you just cut off the top of the tree and just work with what’s left? The lower branches look like there’s some good angles to work with, and it looks like you could pick a few evenly spaced ones and go from there. Either that, or make it an open center.
I am asking this question to test my understanding of pruning which is more theoretical than practical right now. If I saw that tree in my backyard, I’d probably do what I just said, but I don’t know if that would be an okay plan of action or a big mistake.
Are you speaking of this picture of the moonglow?
If the answer is yes the answer is yes you could top the pear but you really don’t need to because underneath of it all the tree has a fairly pretty structure. The branches are a little to busy so there needs to be less of them to allow for air flow. When doing that the branches with the best angles need to be kept. The very bottom branch on the right could be tied down and bent out to shape it up. I would chop off half that branch. The next branch on the left is a beautiful branch and I would leave it. I would continue working my way up the tree opening it up and shaping it up until I got to the top. I would leave the top intact. Remember if you walk up there and chop off half a tree the tree will respond with tons of vegetative growth. You’ve got great eyes and if the tree behaved after you did that it would be great but that’s not what the tree will do. The tree is wired for survival and believes a large herbivore ate off the top and it sends off lots and lots of new green growthas a response to the herbivore in a million directions. That forces the tree out of producing pears mode into grow like crazy mode there is a bunch of deer here. If you remove a few branches here and there it just keeps growing up and it plans to get its seeds in the ground eventually once it’s grown tall and wide enough to have a dominant spot in the forest. If you have a rabbit chew on half a trunk the tree might bloom and produce pears that next year because it wants to leave tons of its offspring behind before it dies. Trees sense threats , browsing, etc. more so than we think they do. A prime example is people with a latex allergy but first you need to understand the latex gathering process https://www.the-pillow.com.au/resources/latex_production. If latex rubber is gathered by constantly slashing the tree how long do you suppose it would be until the tree starts upping the irritants in its sap? Perhaps a latex allergy is a trees response to being slashed to much. It intended to give out that allergy to the creature that pestered it. Black walnuts, cedars etc. display alleopathic tendencies towards other plants http://csip.cornell.edu/Projects/CEIRP/AR/Allelopathy.htm. Some plants don’t like being eaten how long would an animal browse on poison ivy or thorny blackberries so you get the idea. Pears are no different some of mine have thorns when they are small to repel browsing animals but loose those thorns later when the animal is supposed to eat the pear and leave its seeds in a steamy pile of fertilizer. Plants produce sweet nectar and smells to entice pollinating insects to make sure those seeds are fertile. When I prune a tree I take the hands off approach as much as possible but like people some trees just start heading down wrong paths much of which has to do with genetics and that’s when you need to intervene. Some trees like Harrow sweet have beautiful wide crotch angles, good fruit, fast production etc. .
Love your explanation!
It’s been quite a few years since I tried the ultrasonic thingies, but my experience was they did not do much of anything. Perhaps they have gotten better, or if the rodent pressure was lower they would have an effect. But when I put them in, I ended up putting out Decon shortly thereafter as they did not seem to be effective at all.
Going to a scion exchange in the near future. What are some low chill varieties of stone fruit that are worth grafting? Particularly varieties that are not typically sold online or in nurseries.
There are literally hundreds. Can you be more specific: how many chill hours you have and what type of fruit you prefer?
300 or less. Any stone fruit sans cherry.
Apricots: Gold Kist, Katy, Lorna.
Apriums: Flavor Delight, Shekar Pareh.
Plums: Methley, Beauty, Black Splendor, Santa Rosa, Weeping Santa Rosa, Catalina, Burgundy, Mariposa, Satsuma, Golden Nectar.
Pluots: Flavorosa, Flavorella, Flavor King.
White Peaches: Springtime, Tropic Snow, Donut (Stark Saturn), Tri-Lite, Babcock, Champagne, Hermosa, Pallas.
Yellow Peaches: Desert Gold, Flordaprince, May Pride, Tejon, Eva’s Pride, Mid-Pride, Santa Barbara, Red Baron, Bonita, August Pride, Redwing, Sweet Bagel, Fairtime.
White Nectarines: Arctic Star, Snow Queen.
Yellow Nectarines: Desert Dawn, Desert Delight, Double Delight, Panamint.
Quick questions on cold weather protection.
I have a bumper satsuma in the ground. Supposed good to 20-25 degrees. We are expecting a week of temps between 18-26 lows. I have it tented with a light cloth blanket. Was thinking of adding heat lamp under the blanket. What size bulb??? I have everything from 40 watt (regular) to 150 watt (heat). I don’t want to get it too hot. Tree is about 3 1/2 foot high and tepee wrapped. Tree is on second year for me
I have a Violette De Bordeaux fig that I just received and is in a 15 gal container. I have it in my unheated/unsealed to the weather greenhouse (tarp type). Same weather conditions as above. Does it need to have a lamp near it?
Highs for the week are low 30’s to low 40’s.
Depends on the size of the tree and the “tent space”. For me a 100 watt work light keeps my peach and fig tree around 30 inside their tent even when its below 0 in the garage. BTW, a plastic tarp would likely keep the heat in better than a blanket. . .