Last week, as starting my approach to fruit tree pruning, I mentioned I would do it in mini-series.
So, let us begin with the young trees first. Most people purchase young trees and plant them on their own. Correct planting is the first important step to future fruit and it is so often done wrong, preventing the tree from maturing. It is also why there are so many tipping, leaning, and crooked fruit trees out there.
Do not plant the tree at the first bulge you see on the trunk. That is the bud graft, not the root flare. They look similar, as both swell in relation to the trunk taper, but is a small tree is buried up to the bud graft, it is 3-6 inches too deep. It will develop trunk collar-rot, root-rot, circling roots, or a combination of all three resulting in a very unhealthy situation. If it does not die, it will struggle to develop the root plate it needs to support the growing crown, resulting in a tipping or leaning form. I have witnessed so many young trees that are growing fantastic crowns and even with fruit, but are very loose in the ground and tipping over. It is because it is planted too deep, usually up to or above the bud graft, thus the root system struggles to grow.
Many times, I find the original root crown dying back and a secondary root crown forming right out of the trunk where it was buried, and neither are able to support the crown. So rule one, get the fruit tree out of whatever container it came in, if it is not bare root, and plant at the flare where the trunk swells and turns into roots. Plant it even a little higher than grade so water can flow away from the trunk, and be sure to stake it adequately. Planting in a bowl can cause inadequate drainage and drown the roots. Young tree formative pruning for next week’s article stay tuned.
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