Tall spindle apple pruning

I planted a sweet sixteen on G. 41 and bent down the branches below the horizon last year as is the method. My issue now is that these bent-down branches have turned up at the tips and are growing vertically anywhere from 12-18 inches this year alone. Should I bend them down further? Prune them to 3 leaves beyond the base cluster? I thought bending them down was supposed to decrease the vigor of these branches

1 Like

Forgot to include the picture!

1 Like

Could you supply some more information?

What soil type do you have sandy, loam, or clay?

What state are you in?

What is your tree to tree spacing?

What is the tree height?

Are you fertilizing and are you irrigating?

In MI with loam/clay. I am irrigating and lightly organic fertilizing. The tree is about 8 feet high. It’s just by itself next to my house so tree spacing is sort of moot. There’s another three tier espaliered apple planted about 6 feet down from it

Looking at the picture it appears that your tied down branches are producing long waterspouts (side branches that grow vertically out of the main branch). I don’t see any tips that are growing vertical in the picture but that is also common when you tie down branches. More pictures of the tree from different angles and a pic of the entire tree would be helpful.

I don’t see any fruit. Did the tree bloom this year? In tall spindle fruiting helps bend the branches down and reduce the growth of the branches.

Based on the picture and the information provided I would do this. This Summer I would cut the waterspouts back to either a couple of leaves or to a fruit bud if the shoot has one. For tips of branches that are bending upward I would move the twine tiedowns out to the tip of the branch so you’re pulling the whole branch down. Next year I would reduce or eliminate the fertilizer you give the tree. This will help switch the tree from vegetative growth to fruiting.

Make sure next year to remove any large branches that are 1/2 the diameter of the trunk using a dutch cut. Also consider removing branches that are a 1/3 of the diameter of the trunk but be sparing in how you do this especially if you have few branches. Probably you will remove 2-3 branches total at most.

What is your target height for the tree? Typically in commercial planting they target 10 to 12 feet but home owners often shorten this to about eight feet.

I have Sweet Sixteen on Geneva 935 myself and the tree is in it’s second year since planting. Geneva 935 has a bit more vigor than G41 but is otherwise similar and the tree is trained to the tall spindle. I will check it’s grow habit today but right now (4:35am) it’s dark so I will have check it later.

Thank you mroot! I will take your suggestions. I plan to keep it less than 8 feet. It did bloom a tiny bit this year and I have two fruits which, ironically, are higher up in the tree on a small branch that is merely horizontal and not bent down.

Okay sounds like you have a plan. I checked my tree and didn’t see a lot of waterspouting but the deer trimmed the branches this year so I can’t directly compare my tree to yours.

If you need more help later let the forum know and remember if things don’t work out there is always next year :slight_smile: .

You may want to check out the resources here:

Perhaps particularly this:

Hope this is helpful, and best of luck!

Great video and links! Thanks!