Thursday, June 19, 2014

Time for summer pruning of young trees

    Rain and warm weather makes pecan trees grow and grow fast! The other day, I was out looking at some of our young trees and noticed that stalked buds had already formed at the top of the central leader (photo above). If these buds are allowed to grow, the tree will end up with a developing a bushy, "lolly-pop"  top with no prominent  central leader. To maintain a single leader, I simply pulled the stalked buds (or shoots developed from stalked buds) off the tree with my fingers. The photos above show the central leader before and after all stalked buds were removed. Be careful to look for stalked buds all the way to the top the the leader. The stalked buds were smaller near the top but I could easily see them and snap them off.

    I developed the 2-foot rule for summer pruning to help growers maintain a prominent central leader on their young pecan trees. But after I pruned out all the stalked buds on this year's new leader growth, I noticed how following the 2-foot rule last year has influence the growth of new lateral shoots this year. Look carefully at the photo at right and you can see several new shoots developing on last year's wood (grey bark). These new shoots are developing from secondary buds below last year's pruned off stalked buds.

    Here's a close-up view of the developing new shoots (photo at left). You can see last year's pruning cut and the new shoot growing out below that cut. Now, note how the shoot is developing a nice wide angle branch attachment. That's exactly the type of strong branches we want on a pecan tree.