Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pruning the Stone Fruit

As the autumn heads toward winter and the leaves have all fallen it is time to prune the stone fruit. Keeping the tree small enough to fit inside the cage yet big enough to produce good fruit has always been a challenge. This year I have learnt to 'summer prune' and remove the fast growing vertical shoots that head up through the cage roof. Without most of these vigorous shoots the winter prune is much easier. I try to keep the branches from overlapping, heading into the middle or growing up too far. The longer branches are cut back to an out facing bud to reduce the chances of them snapping under the weight of summer growth and to ensure the new growth heads out rather than up.
 This year's bumper crop of peaches led to one branch snapping - seen in the picture to the left of the centre.

Last winter I planted two dwarf stone fruit trees - a peach and a nectarine. Both had curly leaf when spring came so at leaf fall they were sprayed with a mixture of Bordeaux powder and water. Hopefully with more vigorous growth and another application at bud burst they will grow healthy. We are hoping that these dwarf trees will be a real success inside the cage and will need less hard pruning. If this is so we will slowly replace the least productive trees with dwarf varieties.

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