Turning vegetative buds to fruiting buds

I’d like to learn a little more about how to prune upright growth and water sprouts to make vegetative buds revert to fruiting buds. I’ve heard mention of this but have not read anything that would provide me with enough information to do it. I know that bending limbs to horizontal will decrease vigor and encourage fruit bud development. But what about water sprouts? For instance if I have 3 water sprouts on a branch maybe I’ll take one of them and bend it to horizontal. But instead of removing the other 2 completely it sounds like I can cut the other shoots back to the second set of buds and in a year or two those vegetative buds could switch to fruiting buds? This obviously seems like something I’d want to do as summer pruning otherwise I’m going to create a lot of new unwanted growth from the two remaining buds.

Are there any good reads out there about this technique? Does it only work for Pomme fruit or can it work for Prunus as well?


I would like to know more about that as well… since I seem to be farming sticks!! I have cut several sprouts to about 2 or 3 buds. I tried both… we will see… That is a great topic.

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I have followed the threads here on the espilar apples. It seems that their objective and methods to control horizontal growth and encourage fruit spurs is something we can use on more conventionally trained trees. That being said it seems like a fine line between a short vegetative branch and a fruit spur. I cut some water sprouts out of a small fugi last summer and then tried to keep new growth pinched back in hopes that some would turn into fruit Spurs.


It may be similar to pruning grapes to initiate spurs. I have a young grape trellis with about 15-20 varieties that I’m diligently working on. I’ll add two links where the 1st link covers the first three years & the second link covers the next four years for a total of seven years… however I really can’t say for sure. This is a topic where I have been working on my own trees sort of blindly with intuition. Dax




I can confirm it does work on apricot and plum. And yes do it as part of you summer pruning. However don’t let the length of the watersprout get over 15-20" and it should be pencil thick. So shorten them up to 2-3 buds early. The vegetative cover you leave is also good for preventing sunscald on the scaffolds and lateral branches which emit the sprouts on an open center tree. I’ve also found that these spurs tend to only last a few years, when they are exhausted you can of course cut them out.


This is something espalier growers do, right? at least, that’s where I think I’ve seen it discussed.