Tuesday, May 24, 2016
How can such an obviously strong growing tree lose its central leader so quickly? Yesterday, I was pruning some trees I grafted last year and I think I discovered the answer.
2-foot rule. I pruned off all lateral branches that emerged from the central leader within two feet of the new central leader (photo at left).
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
At this time of year, a few judicious pruning cuts will help direct the new growth of this tree and help maintain a strong central leader.
Monday, May 16, 2016
During the past three weeks I've been grafting pecan trees almost every day. I've grafted trees at the Pecan Experiment Field, during grafting schools, and on my own farm. The weather forecast for this coming week is cloudy, wet, and cool--great grafting weather. At every break in the rain, I'll be outside grafting even more trees.
One of the most frequent questions I receive during grafting schools is--"How long can I keep grafting?" The answer, like almost every outdoor activity, is that it depends on the weather. The grafting season ends when daytime high temperatures start to climb into the low 90's F. High heat seems to literally cook newly placed grafts to death. In the past, hot weather occurred as early as mid-May in SE Kansas. Most years, the heat will hold off until June.
I watch the long range forecasts to see when weather experts predict the first real heat wave. If a week of mild temperatures is forecast before the heat hits, I'll keep on grafting. If a heat wave is immenant, making additional grafts is not a good idea.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
9 bark grafts in a large tree in an effort to change a seedling tree into tree that would produce large, high-quality nuts (photo at right). Today, I spent nearly 90 minutes up in a hydraulic lift moving from graft to graft, trimming each graft union, and removing new sprouts growing on the trunk and main scaffold limbs. I can't imagine how long this task would take if I had to use a step ladder to access these graft unions.
The hazards associated with grafting, pruning, and training a top-worked tree from the top steps of a ladder are obvious. No tree is worth broken bones and a extended recovery period. If you would like to graft a seedling tree that has grown too large for conventional grafting methods or you end up changing your mind on a previously grafted tree, consider coppicing the tree at ground level.