The main mistakes when pruning fruit trees
Pruning is a scary word for many, and some homeowners simply ignore pruning, removing only dry and broken shoots. Others, by contrast, are too zealous for trimming, having read only a few articles on this topic and immediately make a whole bunch of mistakes. Let’s understand the mistakes today. Let those who are afraid to once again take on a pruner or garden saw and learn from the mistakes of others, so as not to allow their own.
1. Errors in the timing of trimming
Let's start with the deadlines, as many do not realize that this is very important. One simple truth should be firmly understood: pruning is the earliest spring event that needs to be carried out in the garden, and the most suitable time for pruning is the very beginning of spring, a period when there is no danger of severe frost, but at least a couple of weeks before buds open .
Crop plants should not be cut in winter; it is permissible to cut such plants only in the southern regions of Russia, where winter temperatures are hardly lower than our spring ones. If you cut fruit trees in our region in winter, then severe frosts immediately following pruning can damage the exposed tissue of the cut, and the bark, and even the cambium located near it.
As for the specific timing of spring pruning, they depend largely on the conditions of a particular year. In the center of Russia, for example, the optimal cutting time is in March, at this time, as a rule, the snow settles, but does not completely melt, and it is convenient for the trimmer to move along its surface without getting stuck in the mud.
But whenever you start pruning, as we already said, it is important to finish it at least a couple of weeks before the start of active sap flow. During the period of sap flow, which begins, as a rule, when the average daily temperature passes through +5 degrees, the roots begin to actively supply moisture with minerals dissolved in it upwards through the vessels of wood to all organs and tissues of the plant.
If the pruning is completed 12-15 days before the start of active sap flow, that is, when the slices after the pruning remain dry, then the vessels will be filled almost instantly with air and it, like a cork, will clog them, preventing then the release of juice. Given this, in principle, pruning can be completed later, that is, not two weeks before the start of sap flow, but, say, a few days. But it is sometimes very difficult to determine the exact date of the beginning of sap flow; therefore, as they say, it is easier to play it safe.
If pruning is done later, when moisture is already actively supplied through the vessels, then air will not enter the vessels and juice will flow out of them. Loss of juice leads to depletion of the plant, and the resulting sweetish liquid will become a real bait for various pests and diseases, for example, sooty fungus. Settling on shoots, soot fungus leads to blockage of the stomata of the bark, lower air exchange and lower winter hardiness of trees.
Pruning outside the recommended period can only be carried out if inaction can have a more negative effect on plants, for example, if a large branch is broken by a strong gust of wind and its further oscillation and breaking can cause only more severe injuries associated with scoring of the bark. If necessary, pruning in the winter, when the branches, say, can break from the heavy snow adhering to them, you need to wait for the first thaw.
Cutting in frosty weather is dangerous for the reason that at this time the wood is quite fragile and doesn’t cut it, but rather breaks it off, which means that cutting tools can allow scoring and damage to fabrics located more deeply.
In the same case, if thaws are not expected in the near future, and pruning should be done urgently, then when pruning, try to leave a stump 10-11 centimeters long from the branch you want to remove. Then all the damage from the saw cut in the cold and from further frost will negatively affect only this part of the branch that you left. In the spring, this part can be safely removed.
2. Errors in cropping regularity
Everything is quite simple here: usually gardeners, especially beginners, do not pay any attention to the fruit tree (in terms of pruning) for a long time. This can last for years, until the fruiting of the tree begins or even longer.
Over time, owners of plots with fruit trees notice that their plants are often sick, give a poor harvest, and look untidy. They begin to trim them hard, using all the cropping methods they know. This is where the mistake lies: the trees are neglected, accustomed to growing as they want, from such an execution they either start to hurt and slow down their development even more, or they are overgrown with a large number of tops - vertical, thick shoots that drag most of the nutrients onto themselves, and the fruits themselves do not give.
In fact, pruning should be carried out regularly and begin from the very first year of planting seedlings on the site. In the event that you got a running tree, prune in parts, removing about a third of the shoots annually, then this will not be a big stress for the plant.
3. Hemp is also a mistake
When pruning, it is imperative to cut “into the ring”, that is, in such a way that the tree has the opportunity to eliminate, repair the wound with its own bark. Even if the wound is large, the cortex roller will actively begin to form along its edges, and this can already prevent the decay of the area left from the saw cut.
If you leave a tree stump while sawing off a branch, it is often 3-4 cm long, then this is practically a guarantee that the bark along its perimeter will begin to collapse. An exception here can be forced to cut in winter in the cold, about the benefits of which we described above, only in this (again, an exceptional case) you can leave a stump.
In the future, if in spring, when we sawed, we left a tree stump and the bark began to collapse along its perimeter, then spores of various harmful fungi can “settle” in the dust left from the bark, various pests can stay for the winter, or the terrible enemy of any tree, the bark beetle, will settle. In any case, there will be no pluses from the hemp left during trimming, and as a result, the whole base of the bitch that you left can die. But these are visible changes, there are also hidden from the eyes.
So, a left stump can noticeably disrupt the outflow of nutrients to the root system, the tree will be weakened more and begin to reject the stump (usually with part of the wood), which will lead to the appearance of a hollow, and this is already an open gate for fungus fungus and black cancer .
In the event that a tree stump from a once large branch is left during pruning, it usually does not die out, powerful vertical shoots appear from sleeping buds - tops that pull a significant portion of nutrients onto themselves and put them only into their growth, without forming flower buds , and, therefore, fruits.
Do you need all these problems? We think that it is not, and all of them can be avoided by completely removing the branch with a “ring” cut.
4. Do not cut the young without need
How often you can notice: a beginner gardener cuts branches here and there (where necessary, haphazardly). Such pruning is absolutely unnecessary for the tree. Particularly dangerous is the shortening of the tops of the shoots when the trees are actively growing. What happens? Shortening such shoots, you literally stop their growth in height, thereby causing the formation of a pair of spinning tops, which, instead of the shoot, which is now ordered upward, will actively develop upward, literally taking away all the power from the side shoots.
In the event that trimming of “young growth” is dictated by your desire to expand the crown and strengthen skeletal branches, then you need to remove the central conductor. Such a simple technique will allow you to transfer growth to the very first, most powerful side branch. Next, it will be necessary to control the state of the crown and simply not give new leading shoots to develop by trimming them or bending the vertical branches, which in this state will begin to actively grow with bollards, which suits us perfectly.
5. Strong pruning is also a mistake.
This is almost the most common and most widespread mistake. Gardeners sometimes too eagerly take on pruning and shorten the growth very much. Thus, you literally shift the growing part of the shoot down, and as low as you delete the branch itself. It is clear that in this case the uppermost kidney will regard itself as the apical kidney, and the two nearest kidneys will become the strongest.
We will simulate the situation: you briefly cut off an escape, say, a kidney for four. What does that mean? That you have left the plant exclusively in the zone of growth shoots, and they will take on all the nutritious juice. This means that you have trimmed to increase growth, and all branches immediately became the main ones. If this pruning is done again after a year, the branches will be even stronger and form a real bunch of fatliquoring shoots, which can be corrected only by straightening it. But if you initially cut the shoot more weakly, then you would not get a bunch, but a branch with flies.
6. Scuffing bark - the effect of improperly cutting large branches
Quite often, in his practice, the gardener is faced with the need to trim powerful branches of large diameter. It is sometimes impossible to hold one such branch in the hand of one person. As a result, when it is cut, it breaks off and a large scuff of the bark is obtained, which is then treated for a very long time and is difficult. How to cut large branches? At first, we recommend cutting a maximum of lateral shoots on a branch to reduce its weight.
Next, you need to step back from the place where you would cut the branch “onto the ring”, twenty centimeters and saw the branch in this place about half from the bottom, and then cut the centimeter four closer to the trunk, but from above. Thus, the branch breaks off as expected (controlled), without the formation of a bulging bark. All that remains for you to do is to cut the remaining “stump” “onto the ring”.
7. Running sharp corners
The acute angles of branching from the trunk are often left unknowingly. It seems that the branch grows conveniently, doesn’t bother anyone, doesn’t obscure anything, so what, what is the angle of 30 degrees? In fact, there is nothing good about it. The optimal angle of departure of the shoot from the trunk should be from 45 to 90 degrees, and anything less is no longer the norm.
In the future, when the branch grows, thickens, gains mass, elementary cracking will occur and the branch will simply fall off from the trunk or from another branch. A large break of branches forms, which, firstly, will be an open gate for infection, and secondly, a serious problem that is very difficult to eliminate.
It is necessary to deal with the acute angles of branch branching as early as possible, for which it is necessary to carry out the removal with a cut “on the ring” of one of the branches. Even in the case when the fruit tree forms an additional, elegant-looking shoot, which, over time, becomes, in fact, the second trunk, it needs to be removed as soon as possible. You will regret to cut it, and it will bear fruit for several years, but then from a slightly stronger than usual gust of wind it will break so that even the screed of branches can not help.
8. Do not smear the raw cut
In conclusion, the rule of using garden var. Many are in a hurry and immediately after trimming they cover up the cuts with garden var. In fact, this cannot be done: neither the garden var, nor the paint can lie on the wet surface of the cut. You need to wait about a day, let the slices dry and only after that start isolating them with garden varnish or garden paint.
That's all the main mistakes that can be made when pruning, if you do not do them, then your trees will be well developed and will give you high and stable crops.