I have a number of Victoria Plum trees in my garden that are very tall
the first branches start at around ten feet and are very long so it is
impossible to reach the fruit. How severe a prune can give them? and
when is the best time?
You could take off one third without a problem, perhaps more. Prune when
they are dormant, in spring just before budding is good. If the fungus is
prevalent in your area you should spray for peach leaf curl at that time
with one of the copper-based fungicidal sprays.
The question is why are they so tall and leggy, are they in full sun? If
they are reaching for the sun this will be a recurrent problem and they will
not crop well.
Hi Thanks for the reply, I bought the property a few years ago, the old
lady had not done anything with the garden for years it was a small
holding years ago.
It was not just overgrown it was thick with young trees which we cleared
leaving the fruit trees. So I guess they were reaching for sunlight.
I agree with David that taking about 1/3rd of the growth or a bit more
is the traditional method. However branches starting at 10 feet is a
real problem if you want the fruit. I think I would try a stump
graft, at least on one or a few of the trees. You can do a search for
technique. (of course you don't have to do them all at once!)
Basically in early spring when the buds have formed but not opened cut
the tree down with a chain saw. Cut higher than you would normally
fell the tree. Now if you have not cut fair sized trees down and do
not know what you are doing, this is probably a job for a
professional. Have them cut the stump off at about 3 feet (1 meter)
at a -very- slight angle. just enough for the rain to run off. Select
two or three or more "scions" which is just a short piece of branch
with several good buds from a one to two year old branch (brown not
green bark) that is about an inch (2.5 cm) or two in diameter. It
sounds like the tree you cut down with have a LOT of these.
A technique called the cleft graft is the best for working with a tree
stump. This is also one of the easiest types of grafts for beginners
to attempt. The first step is to prepare the stump to accept the
scion. Hammer a chisel into the stump, creating a split, or cleft
about 6 inches deep. Then whittle the scion wood to a 6-inch wedge so
that it easily inserts into the new cleft, making sure to leave bark
on the two sides of the wedge. Your tree sounds like it will have a
pretty big stump, so you may need to carve out a section of the stump
rather than a simple split. Leave the bark!!!
Once the scions are wedged and ready, insert them into the cleft of
the stump. It is usually necessary to use a small pry bar or grafting
tool to separate the cleft far enough to accept the scion wedges. You
want it tight! Place the scions on the two outer edges of the cleft
so that the bark of the scion matches up with the bark of the stump.
It is this lining up of bark rather than lining up rings as with many
other more complicated methods that makes the cleft graft such an
excellent technique for beginning grafters to attempt. The trick is
to get the bark of the stump over the bark of the scions so they will
heal together and the graft will grow. For a stump the size I
envision yours to be, I would place four or more scions.
The final step to completing the fruit tree graft is to apply a
grafting compound. There are a number of options for this, the most
common of which are a petroleum-based paste and a wax. Spread the
compound over the entire wound to protect and seal it Including the
top of the stump, therefore protecting it from disease and
encouraging quick growth.
If you decided to put four or so scions in the stump, after the first
year when the branches are all growing you can begin to trim and prune
the tree into a plum "bush"- very earsy to spray and pick fruit. If
you place two scions, the traditional method is to cut off the weaker
scion after a year and make the stronger you new leader for a new
tree. If you decide to try this I would start with a shorter stump so
the branches don't get to high.
While a stump graft is a solution it does seem a bit much to ask for
somebody who is starting from the point of not knowing when or how to prune
at all. If you top them they will shoot from lower down and you ought to be
able to establish some shape to the growth over a few years. Since you have
several it is not so critical that every one is a success so maybe if you
are very severe and start some with just a stump you will get some right and
some will die, or they might all live. That's better than what you have.
Top post as is getting long. I think any qualified tree surgeon could
do this quite easily. You might want to have one or two people out
and have them make suggestions as to what would be best. I have done
this myself, but I have lived on farms much of my life and I'm used to
doing such things.
On Fri, 13 Dec 2013 08:46:34 +0100, David Ellis
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