When to remove limb spreaders

Should i remove limb spreaders on 1-2 yo trees come winter?


Welcome to our group Andrew.
It’s hard to say when spreaders should be removed. I normally remove them when I think the branch will stay where I want it. If I see girdling from strings I will remove and replace where they don’t do any damage. The limbs are usually stable by winter but if not I let the spreaders stay attached.

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How long have they been on?

Welcome to the group Andrew. I leave them on for about 4 years.

Thanks for the advice!!

They have been on for 2 weeks.

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I would say they should be left on a full growing season.


That’s not long enough to accomplish much. Typically, I apply them in the spring and take them off in the fall. I don’t think they’re going to do much harm over the winter provided they’re not cutting into or abrading the branch.

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When the limb is still green and hasn’t hardened off yet is best IMO. On some small/young trees I used clothes pins to train new/future scaffold branches. With the main trunk barely being pencil sized, and the limb in question only 3 or 4 inches long. I suspect 2 weeks was more than enough to “set” the angle it will
grow at from now on. Perhaps less, I may have moved some to different limbs after only a week and they remained at that new angle.

Otherwise as others have said, you’ll probably need a full growing season…

I’m lazy and leave spreaders and twine attached until they fall off. It bugs me though that, in the winter, ice and sleet can build up on them and cause the very boughs I’ve taken the effort to protect to break. So far, that hasn’t happened to me — knock on wood.