Heavy pruning on a Plum tree

I've got a Plum tree that needs attention. I've been told that it has a 'weak crotch' area where several of the branches are growing together in the center. http://www.geocities.com/glaprade/Plum /
This tree probably should have been pruned long ago, but unfortunately it was not.
My question is: How much to cut and what?
I need to cut one of the major branches anyway because it is low hanging and starting to occlude the driveway (the furthest to the right in the FullTree.jpg or the one coming right at you in WeakCrotch1.jpg).
I am tempted to cut 2-4 more branches on the other side and encourage the tree to grow up instead of out, however I am pretty sure this will be too much for the tree to handle.
Any words of advice?
Thanks in advance, G
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If I were pruning this tree I would not touch the branch that you say is interfering with the driveway, except that it is. The problem is in the center of the tree not the branches that are off to the side.
Therefore, I would not remove the entire branch over the driveway. I would prune it at the spot where it one stem heads upward, leaving that one and taking out the rest.
Then I would remove one of the central branches as low as possible without damaging the others.
Next year I would take another of the central branches out, maybe two, forming the tree into a vase shape with side main branches but no center ones.
My inclinations are the opposite of yours, perhaps due to the congested area that the tree is in. You want it to go up but plums do best when in a vase configuration.
JMHO
John
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On Sat, 19 Mar 2005 17:32:59 -0500, John Bachman

John, I think your suggestion is a good one. I've looked at it and I can shape the driveway branch I was going to cut by removing growth higher up. It does not make sense to cut the best branch off!
I could probably get by with doing that, and cutting the branch that's in the center of the 3 others in the WeakCrotch2.jpg shot. Hopefully I can do that without damaging the others and provide more room in the center.
Thanks for the feedback.
G
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Plums come into fruit at about the 10 year mark and then are productive for 15-20 years. You tree doesn't look like a spring chicken. You might as well prune as you see fit, I doubt you will be able to solve the weak crotch problem at this point. What you might consider is removing enough wood to keep heavy weight off the weaker crotched branches. Favor the removal of branches in the center of the tree and this years new growth may well bear for you next year. It is common to prune a plum to have an open center . The driveway branch is the strongest crotch on the whole tree. (wide is stronger than narrow crotch angle) In the meantime you could plant it's replacement a little further to the side of your driveway and then remove the plum tree as it gains some size or the new tree begins to interfere with the old.
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snipped-for-privacy@localnet.com wrote:

Where's the ten-year to fruit average come from? Are you assuming from seed-grown? Round here, on Puget Sound, when anyone plants out a bare root it will probably have a one-year or a two-year old graft. It will usually produce plenty of plums in three years, & often will produce a few its first year. A plum that grows unusually fast or unusually slow may take longer to start fruiting, but a "long" time would be six years (plus two if you count the maximum age of the original graft).
-paghat the ratgirl
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dont prune in spring. wait until the first flush of growth is over. spring growth is susceptible to fire blight.

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I missed the original plum pruning post and don't know where Gman lives, but here in Wisconsin, the stone fruit (plum, cherry, peach, etc.) pruning recommendation is in late winter while the trees are still dormant. See page 9 of this publication: http://cecommerce.uwex.edu/pdfs/A3639.PDF

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