Just received an apple tree which I want to train as a cordon. However
it is about 5 ft long and there are lots of branches up the length o
the tree. Do I just cut all these back to leave just the central stem?
I also received a peach tree which I want to train as a fan. This i
also about 5 feet long with side branches all the way up as well . Th
lowest 2 branches are on opposite sides at about the right height, bu
thy are weak looking. Should I still prune just above these
Incidentally, I also got a cherry tree, but I dont have any worrie
The biggest mistake people make in wanting to train a tree is thinking that
they have to start immediately. What you need to start first is a healthy
root system and good growth. So the training can wait especially on the
apple. Peaches are much faster growing. Cut out some of the branches on the
peach that are obviously out of your 2-D plan and wait until new growth is
underway. Don't depend on any existing side growth for your ultimate
framework. Leave plenty of leaves since they are the growth producing
factory but snip out the top few inches of your center growth. This will
induce lots of side bud development for about a foot or so on down the stem.
Select from these to be your framework but you don't need to prune the
others out until next winter when you can really begin to start shaping.
Remember you want lots of leaves. If you want to start your fan lower, then
snip the center growth a little lower than I mentionned. Where I'm from
peaches grow like weeds and need lots of pruning, sometimes severe.
For the apple trim the branches back to the bud closest to the tree. They
can be removed totally later if desired but will produce leaves for growth.
Most should provide the foundation for your cordon. Some people say to cut
the branches back to a bud half way back to the trunk. This gives more
leaves for growth and can always be trimmed back further later. Unlike
peaches, the central leader should be left until the full desired height of
the cordon is reached.
I don't do any espalier, but grow a lot of apples, peaches, etc. However, I
passed your email on to a fellow clubmember (Midfex), who does do that. He had
trouble growing the peaches, as a fan, which is the only way he feels you can do
the espalier with peaches. The problem was keeping the structure in subsequent
years while still producing fruit. He was only able to get fruit in those cases
by allowing a rather unkempt growth, producing a rather unattractive tree.
Hope this helps,
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