pruning to preserve a strong central leader. But by the end of the growing season, I usually find that I've created nothing but a tall, branchless tree. When the one-year-old graft breaks bud the next spring it seems like all the new growth is confined to the very top of the tree (photo above, right). How am I going to promote lateral branch formation with a tree like this? All it takes is some careful directive pruning.
top-heavy tree that causes the tree to bend over under the weight of the foliage.
2-foot rule in tree training. In the photo at right, you can see that I removed all the the new shoots in the area of the trunk two feet down from the apex of the shoot that I have choosen to become the new central leader.
Thinning out lateral branches near the top of the tree has an additional advantage. Buds lower down on the trunk will be stimulated to grow and form branches along the entire length of the last year's scion growth.