I was wondering if at any point this summer I should head back the central leader on apple trees planted in spring? Is there a maximum amount of growth to shoot for? My Virginia crabs have already put on 24" of leader growth. Is there such thing as too much? I’ve included a photos
Yes it is possible, but I wouldnt be concerned with 24". Hewes/virginia crabapples are vigorous growers. I would not support it as you have though. You are supporting it too much which is going to lead to a small diameter trunk. Most of ours in the nursery are now 18-24" tall and do not have any support. We routinely get 20 + mph winds. Not saying to take away all support now that your tree is accustomed to it, but I would allow at least the top 8-12" to be “in the wind”.
thanks for the advice. i’m not concerned with 24", but at what amount of growth would you head them back assuming scaffolds at 24" spacing. the photo is a bit deceiving…the aglok is fairly loose on these trees and they fly around quite a bit in a windy orchard setting. these trees are all on on various geneva semi-dwarf rootstocks and the guys at cummins are pretty adamant about permanently staking them. i haven’t staked my trees on b.118 yet and haven’t decided if i will.
If it doesnt start laterals where you want them you can either notch buds next spring or head the tree back to slightly above where you want those next scaffolds when the tree is dormant. The ones I grow always seem to produce enough laterals given time. Personally I wouldnt put 24" between my scaffolds I find that excessive. I would certainly stake the tree if the root system calls for it. Personally I would just take a different approach.