So this new Sweet Cherry I got, Black Gold on Mazz, doesn’t have any branching until about 48"-52" above the graft except for a lone, sad, thin branch around 30". From searching here and Google it looks like delayed bud break is the best time to prune for encouraging a vigorous response, but because Cherries are very susceptible to canker, I’ve also seen that Summer is the best time for them. That said, I’m having a really hard time find any vegetative buds on the trunk\leader under the 50" mark. Plenty of them above but nadda below.
I am wondering if I wait till spring, hope some buds push from under the bark or do I top it and cleft graft onto the top one of the younger branches to get it resized around 30"? I’m not super comfortable with Bud\Chip grafting but I could try if that is the only viable option. I don’t want to be impatient and lose the tree simply because I wanted it shorter.
Thanks in advance and let me know if I did not provide enough info.
If the tree isn’t too big you could cut off everything except that lone thin branch next spring. That branch will assure that you don’t kill the tree. And maybe other buds will push that you could use to fill out the tree.
Thanks. I’ll have to measure the leader diameter when I get home from work. My guess is the tree is about 3y old based on how thick it seems to be. If I had to guess, it is about 1" maybe a smidgen more.
OK. The diameter is just about 1" just above the single lower branch. Towards the graft it is 1-1/8" to 1-3/16" just for reference.
The tree currently looks unhappy (stressed) because I just removed it from the 5g pot and unbound the roots to put it in a 30g soft pot. Given that, late winter, early spring may be best to avoid the extra stress.
Thanks. Do you think topping just above the first small branch will be ok? Also? Should I cover the whole thing at that point with a trash bag to keep moisture \ possible disease out for a couple weeks while it heals?
As always, thank you for your time and help! It is greatly appreciated.
On the black gold tie off that lower shoot to the trunk above it. That’s to hold the shoot upright. Then next spring cut off the trunk above where it’s being used as a support. Hold the branch upright until it will stay on it’s own. Then cut the trunk down to the base of the branch.
The Gold and York lived in 5g nursery pots from April till last week.
The Black Tartarian was a relatively new aquire currently in about 15g of pot.
The Rainier and Lapins are in 45g pots since April and are on NR1 which I believe isn’t super vigorous. That said, both trees lost some new growth / branches during a mis-handling, this being my first season with trees, while trying to straighten branches with clothes pins or soft ties. I lost at least 3-4 on the Rainier and maybe the same on Lapins. I recently, Last weekend, fed them all some Worm Castings, Rock Phosphate and Azomite knowing the potting soil was likely depleted.
Ahhh. OK. I’m learning as much and as fast as I can, but I definitely neglected them(fertilizer) as the vegetable garden was in full swing. I’ll need to develop a better routine going forward. Yet another reason this site has been so great, folks helping us inexperienced growers correct our short comings before it’s too late. So again… thank you!
When I bought my two cherries, they were super tall. I topped them at around knee height as soon as I had planted them in the ground. Drastic I know. But they soon grew back and I trained the four limbs so they were 45degrees using tent pegs and string. I want everything to grow closer to the ground.
But going back to your issue of tall but empty stem. Please check out this video on notching to promote limbs where you want them. I had the same problem for three years until came across this video, a Kiwi person too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq08NuQ_bfI
As for being too late…I don’t believe so. They’re only just starting to bud or wait for their next dormant cycle then go for it.
Thanks for the follow up! Do you recall how thick your truck was? I have a feeling my trees could be closer to 3 years old. They seemed awfully stout when I purchased them and at the time I did not realize that a younger \ thinner tree would be better for topping and training.
The trees are from Hollybrook Orchards and honestly, they were nice, just way to tall. Now since the transplant from plastic 5g Container into large 30g soft pots they “appear” to be dying, having lost the majority (95%) of their leaves. I am assuming it is transplant shock from having been I. the crappy non-soil as well as being terribly root bound, which I undid with as little root damage as I could. All that said, I’m terrified to top them, at least not until spring as discussed above. I’d love to hear any other insight you have to offer though if you don’t mind
Again, thank you for your time and insight, I greatly appreciate you and everyone who have been so helpful.
And oh Yea. Haha. I agree 100% with the knee high cuts… That is how I I am doing the trees I’m growing as Espalier, as well as my Peach. I plan to keep every tree at or around 6.5 feet which is perfect for harvesting from the ground. The exception to this is two of my Cherries that I am experimenting with the SSA systemnwhich I’ll let grow closer to 7.5 feet and top it back from time to time.
My primary objective with everyone of my trees is to keep them at a width and height I can easily manage for Sprays and Netting. I have too many trees for my family to eat all the fruit if I just let them go. my thought was to grow double the trees for variety and then keep them small to reduce the excessive amount of Fruit 4-5 years from now. Of course the other idea was to be able to thin the fruit heavily to get higher quality and sizes without overly impacting the amount I do harvest, if that makes any sense.
This is not quite what you asked for I want to mention it. I think you are choosing a wrong rootstock for your Black Gold. A Mazzard is almost a full size rootstock that grows 20 ft or more.
You want to keep it at 6’ is a very tall task. I have a BG on Gisela 5 that I have kept well and productive at 5’+ for the past 6-7 years. I want attempt that on a Mazz or any near full size rootstocks.