Friday, March 13, 2015

Dormant pruning last year's bark graft.

   Last spring I showed you how I top-worked a young Jayhawk tree. Then last summer I showed you how I trained and pruned this tree to create a new central leader from the sprouted scion. Now its time to revisit this same tree for some dormant pruning.
    In the photo at right, the bark graft I applied last year is painted white. I trained a single shoot from the scion to form a new central leader securing it to an eight foot long wooden stake to prevent wind damage. The graft grew an amazing 6 feet tall in a single summer.
    Last summer, I spent a lot of time pinching off stalked buds from this tree.  In a close up photo (at left) of the new shoot, you can  clearly see the stubs left behind where I clipped off  stalked buds. But, you can also see that I have some nice secondary buds that should break out this spring to form wide-angled lateral branches.
   Further up the stem I found some stalked buds that developed later in the summer. I used my clippers to carefully remove all stalked buds along the stem (photo at right). I surely don't want narrow-angled limbs developing about seven feet off the ground.
    One of the disadvantages of top-working a larger tree is that you end up doing a lot of detailed pruning several rungs up a ladder. It a good thing I've got an eight foot orchard ladder at the ready.
    At the very top of this tree the central leader totally breaks down (photo at left). Since I've got a tall enough ladder, I pruned the top of the tree to a single shoot. This meant removing all competing lateral branches to leave the strongest growing shoot.
   This spring, I'll make directive pruning cuts to preserve the central leader one more time. It won't be long before this tree grows too tall for easily accessible detailed pruning cuts. But that's OK. I'll be able to spend more time on younger trees and new grafts.