[NAFEX] Bending branches to induce early fruiting

Thomas Olenio tolenio at sentex.net
Sat Apr 2 13:26:16 EST 2005


You can buy plastic Easter eggs that pop open cheap this time of year.   
They will make great molds for tree weights that could be re-used.  The  
result is fine round surfaces that are more eye  appealing.

Just paint the weights green and who would notice them?


On Sat, 02 Apr 2005 11:57:10 -0500, Joe Hecksel <jhecksel at voyager.net>  

> Hello all:
> Most of you are familiar with the technique of bending vertical branches  
> to a more horizontal position to induce earlier/more fruiting.  Many  
> mechanisms have been proposed (C/N ratio, hormonal changes).  The simple  
> fact remains that it is one of the most effective ways to "tip" a tree  
> into fruiting mode.  It can also make a young, shy bearer a star because  
> you can double the amount of light the canopy harvests.
> Pears seem to be the one kind of fruit that most benefits from branch  
> spreading.  I am heavily weighted toward pears because they produce  
> acceptable fruit with minimal inputs.  Also, I can find many "takers"  
> for the fruit when I become overwhelmed.  Try getting rid of 200 pounds  
> of persimmons someday.  Tough to do, at least in semi-rural Michigan.
> The rub is in the mechanics of bending the branches.
> -Twine and tying them down is very effective but slow and tedious
> -Propping branches with >----< sticks or <======> sticks scar the bark  
> and can/maybe make the tree more vulnerable to fire blight.  This is a  
> big deal with pears.
> -Tree weights are an option but you have to make your own.
> So, there I was filling a hole in the foundation that my wife was sure  
> was the source of several recent ROUS sightings.  Being a man who is  
> basically lazy by nature, I made sure to mix a vast-over sufficiency of  
> mortar.  Being a man of curiosity, I experimented with the extra.
> Very good branch-bending weights can be fabricated with mortar mix, foam  
> egg cartons and 17 gauge, ungalvanized wire.
> 14 gauge wire is too stiff.
> 19 gauge wire is too wimpy
> Galvanized wire lasts too long and runs the risk of girdling the branch  
> as the branch grows.
> Tear the top off of the egg carton and discard. Mix mortar to standard  
> "buttery" consistancy.  Fill the bottom of the egg carton with mortar  
> mix until it is level with dividers.  Slight overfilling is not a  
> problem as they can be easily broken apart.   Smooth top of filled  
> carton.
> The wire should be cut to 6"-to-8" (150mm-to-200mm) lengths and have a  
> squiggle bent into the end that is to be inserted into the mortar.  A  
> squiggle that looks like a hook and then is then bent to be in a plane  
> perpendicular to the axis of the wire will stand up on its own and looks  
> nice.  Insert a length of wire into mortar of each depression.
> Wash hands.  Mortar mix can be very caustic and is always drying.
> Allow mortar to harden.
> Carry your twelve packs of branch weights to the orchard.  Break apart  
> and install on branches to achieve desired branch orientation.  More  
> than one weight can be installed on long/heavy branches.  Do not twist  
> wires tightly to branch....lest they gridle the branch.
> Some people aesthetically oriented people find the weights to be  
> unsightly. The weights are less ugly if you peel off the styrofoam egg  
> carton.  Also, those people can usually be won over by giving them some  
> perfectly ripe pears.  Life is much better when the lady who drives the  
> school bus thinks you are both clever and generous rather than  
> eccentric.  Your kids will like you better, too.
> -Joe
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