I just planted a Stella and a Tartarian sweet cherry trees in my yard.
The trees are about 7 feet tall and are supposed to be dwarf or semi
dwarf. I bought the trees on sale about $7.00 at a Big Box Store.
They do not appear to have been pruned properly, branches are very
upright and competing with the leader and the lowest branch is about 4
feet from the soil. According to the pruning book I have these trees
should develop scaffold branches about 24 to 30 inches from the soil,
is there a way to force these trees to develop lower more horizontal
branches and "start over"?
The only way I know of is if the tree is very young, to leave two or three
smaller ones on, and cut the rest off. I would wait until it was dormant
though. Another rule I was taught was, if the trees are older to only cut
off 1/3 of a tree per year.
Mine didn't scaffold either. I pruned them just above a bud pointing
outward, to point the growth the directions I wanted it to go. It worked,
but they start going up again. I will do it each time I prune and see what
happens. My pear trees are worse.
I don't think I would prune it so hard that it sends out branches lower
on the trunk. that would be pretty harsh pruning and it might not work
anyway. I would work with the branches they have, even if they are
higher up than ideal.
Trees are almost never pruned properly before you buy them. Trees with
nice horizontal scaffold branches would be a nightmare to ship and there
would be broken branches. This is one good reason to buy trees in
smaller sizes. Anyone who understands pruning can end up with a better
tree if they start with a small tree.
Your trees probably have far more branches than they will need once they
grow bigger. Try to decide, now, which branches the tree will need.
Start pruning back the others. If the tree is young enough to be
pliable, you might be able to bend some of the branches down closer to
horizontal without breaking them. Some books recommend hanging weights
on the branches to pull them down. I've had bad experiences with wind
getting things moving too much and having the weights break the branch.
I find using twine, tied to a spot low on the trunk, then up to a branch
you want to hold down, much safer.
You probably have the genetic dwarf variety of Stella, and I have never
heard of Tartarian. If the Tartarian is a grafted tree, you definitely do not
want any branches growing out of the rootstock, or lower portion of the tree
below the graft. This is true for any grafted fruit tree. Usually a graft is
any higher than the 24 inch height you specified, but be aware of the root stock
height for grafted trees.
Some people jam braces between the branches to force them to scaffold.
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