[NAFEX] Dormant vs. summer pruning

kathryn stout kathrynwrites at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 1 21:41:00 EST 2003





It's possible the tree won't fall over. It's been at a
45-degree angle for a long time, hasn't it?
Kathryn
kathrynwrites at yahoo.com
P.S. I have been reading about Lorette pruning--which
is summer pruning. Louis Lorette wrote a book on it in
1925. It looks very interesting--a way to keep a tree
small, if you want, and also get an abundant,
productive crop of fruit. However the book is mostly
about apples and pears, with one chapter on peaches.
Does anyone have information on summer pruning of sour
cherry or apricot?
I think apricot would be a natural for some form of
summer pruning because (in my garden at least) it grew
feet of long straight branches, with few laterals or
side branches--unless forced to, by pruning. I'd like
to interrupt that growth while it's happening and
force more lateral branches (where the fruit forms)
instead of waiting til the dormant season to cut it
off, or cut off a bit at the end and force a few small
lateral branches at the end of a long straight branch.

Sour cherry (Montmorency) seems to fruit further from
its center every year, which tendency I don't know
what to do with if I am trying to keep a tree
relatively small, like 10 feet high and wide. (I had a
Starkspur Dwarf Montmorency, which fruited beautifully
but died of a split trunk--I'm thinking that was my
fault due to having trained it on a sort of vase form
with two heavy side branches and a central trunk--the
weight of the side branches eventually split the
trunk? The splits formed from the crotch of the tree
downward, gradually, over about four or five years.
The tree died one third at a time, until the remaining
third blew over in a windstorm. Next time I will try
pruning sour cherry with a central leader, like the
"Xmas tree" form.) 

Late summer pruning may be hazardous in cold climates.
Lorette pruned in June, July, and August, but that was
in France. I once cut a branch off a fairly young
(Wilson Delicious, I replanted a hardier variety)
apricot tree in August, and the tree died the
following spring. (All of its leaf buds froze, in the
mild-then-ton-of-snow-in-March winter of 1992-3).
Pruning stimulates growth, or hormones in preparation
for growth, even in a tree that shows no outward signs
of growth. That reaction is not what you want when the
tree is hardening its wood to go into dormancy. So, in
a cold climate, prune in June (I have successfully
pruned plum trees in June, in full leaf, just to cut
out branches that had black knot) but no later? I
certainly won't prune any tree in August again.

(Actually--to correct that--I did 2 or 3 years ago in
August cut off a large branch off a Starking Delicious
plum tree that had broken under the weight of fruit. I
waited to harvest the fruit before cutting off the
branch, then cut if off with its leaves still on. That
tree is pretty healthy and vigorous and it survived. 
I once read, "prune when the knife is sharp;" I guess
you can prune anytime if you are willing to take the
risk that it might kill the tree. I figured with the
big branch already broken, the damage was mostly
already done.)

Here in Massachusetts--Zone 5
Kathryn
kathrynwrites at yahoo.com






--- Phil Norris <cousinphil at acadia.net> wrote:
> Robert,
> 
> Tanis's advice is good.  Dormant pruning to promote
> vigor and summer 
> pruning to reduce vigor.  The way I like to think of
> it is the tree, 
> during the winter, has all its reserves stored
> underground in the 
> roots.  When the weather warms up all that stored
> energy flows up into 
> the tree and pushes out wherever it can.  If you
> wait until summer to 
> prune the tree has spent much of its energy on new
> growth and if you 
> subsequently prune off a lot of foliage the tree
> will build up fewer 
> reserves for next year's growth.
> 
> As far as taking out 3/4 of the tree......that
> sounds pretty radical.  
> Generally you're not supposed to remove more than
> one third of the 
> foliage in any one year.  The tree can go into shock
> and look pretty 
> piqued for a year or two. But if the tree is healthy
> and vigorous you 
> might get away with it.  I have done some really
> drastic pruning of 
> major limbs on old apple trees and had them come
> through just fine.  
> Try it and let us know.   Good luck.
> 
> Phil Norris
> Blue Hill, Maine
> 
> On Tuesday, April 1, 2003, at 01:19  PM, Robert G.
> Halgren wrote:
> 
> > Can someone explain when you would prune fruit
> trees (apples) while 
> > dormant as opposed summer pruning?  Believe it or
> not, my trees are 
> > all still reasonably dormant here in central MI
> (well, they are 
> > greening up the cambium, but not yet budding out).
> >
> > The apple trees that came with the house have not
> been pruned in the 
> > better part of 15 years, I'd estimate.  I took a
> fair amount of wood 
> > out last spring (about 25%), and need to take a
> whole lot more. So, 
> > when is the best time to remove a large amount of
> wood?
> >
> > And, assuming I wanted to take 3/4+ of a tree out
> this year, when 
> > would be the best time to do it?  This one has the
> main trunk leaning 
> > well out over the pasture next door (at about a
> 45% angle, at that).  
> > The horses like it, but I'm afraid the tree is
> going to fall over.  
> > There is a nice upright leader coming off the main
> trunk (well above 
> > the graft, if there is one), and I was considering
> just whacking off 
> > the offending growth right there.  It is pretty
> much all or nothing.  
> > The chainsaw is sharp...
> >
> > Thanks!
> >
> > -- 
> > Robert G. Halgren, Ph.D.
> > Bioinformatics Specialist
> > GTSF - Michigan State University
> > http://genomics.msu.edu
> > (517) 353-7236    -   halgren at msu.edu
> >
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