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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
dont prune in spring. wait until the first flush of growth is over. spring
susceptible to fire blight.
List Manager: Puregold Goldfish List at
WEBSITE AT: http://www.mu.edu/~buxtoni/puregold/home.html
Solve the problem, dont waste energy finding who's to blame
I receive no money, gifts, discounts or other
compensation for all the damn work I do, nor for
any of the recommendations I make.
AND I DID NOT AUTHORIZE ADS AT THE OLD PUREGOLD SITE
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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