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Monday, November 21, 2011

What Kind of Pruning Cut Do I Make?

Pruning Cuts. There are only two types of pruning cuts; thinning cuts and heading cuts.

Thinning cuts are made where two
branches or sems come together.
No stub is left after the cut is made.
Thinning cuts are made anywhere where two branches come together. The thinning cut totally removes one of the branches without leaving a stub. Thinning cuts result in a less dense canopy and less regrowth since terminal buds of the remaining stems remain after the cuts. New growth easily grows from the remaining terminal buds which helps minimize growth from side or lateral buds.

Heading cut - removal somewhere
along the stem just above a bud
Heading cuts are made anywhere along a branch NOT at a location where two branches come together. Heading cuts result in several new branches at buds growing immediately below the cut since the terminal bud is removed. Heading cuts are used to shorten the past season’s growth to increase a branches girth. Heading cuts encourage the development of short shoots that support fruit called spurs in fruit trees that grow fruit on spurs. If you do not cut back too severely and you make the cuts at the right time of year (around July or August) you may be able to get spur producing fruit trees to produce fruit a year or so earlier.

This growth resulted from a heading cut. Once the terminal bud was removed the side or lateral buds grew to replace it, fighting to see which might take over and dominate the new growth. The buds closest to the cut usually grow more erect (more straight up) than buds lower than this one. The lower buds tend to not grow as erect as the one closest to the removed terminal bud (the cut).

45 degree angles above horizontal
are the best angles for fruit production.
Here limb spreaders are used to push
the limbs into a 45 degree angle.
The most productive branches for fruit growth and development are at 45 degree angles above horizontal and should be preserved whenever possible. Branches are less productive as they are grow more vertically (more upright or downward). By the way, a branch that is at a 45 degree angle can be directed to be more upright and its growth will actually speed up (at the expense of fruit production, the energy goes to growth rather than fruit) and branches directed to be more horizontal will have slower growth (you can actually slow down its growth but it will still not put its energy into fruit production).

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