Plums, European pears and Asian pears have a tendency to grow vertically upright and narrow. Upright or vertical growth tends to be faster growing and produce less fruit. If caught early enough, young limbs can be trained to grow less vertically and into the more desirable 45 degree angle which provides a better balance between leaf and shoot growth and fruit production.
One way to do this is the use of limb spreaders.
Limb spreaders can be placed between a narrow
limb and the trunk so that the limb is “pushed” and trained to grow in a less
vertical position. The angle we would like to achieve is about a 45 degree
angle from horizontal but should be done to smaller diameter stems when the sap
is “flowing”. The so-called flowing of sap is when the trees exhibit growth. At
this time the branches are more supple and can be bent more easily without
|Wooden limb spreaders for spreading fruit tree limbs into a more desirable 45 degree angle.|
|Pounding a nail into the V of the limb spreader and then cutting off its head is a way to give your limb spreaders more "bite" when holding the limbs apart. I don't like to do this unless I really have to. It can damage the limb.|
Limbs that are three years old and less can be bent into more horizontal growth through the use of limb spreaders. Occasionally older branches can also be forced. Use limb spreaders to push branches that are too vertical into a more horizontal habit.
Limb spreaders are usually made from 1 x 2 inch wood stock or wood lathe. This stock is cut into the lengths that are needed, notched on both ends, with finishing nails driven in to the center of the notch. The heads of the finishing nails are then cut off. The finishing nails help prevent the spreader from slipping on the branch.
|Limb spreaders can be made in different lengths to handle different spacings when needed.|
If you can't find or don't know how to make limb spreaders, we have them available in different sizes at the Orchard if you can't find them or don't wish to make them yourself. All we are asking is a small donation toward the Orchard maintenance fund.