[permaculture] Fwd: Fukuoka and trees

Jason Gerhardt jasongerhardt at gmail.com
Fri Jan 27 13:01:38 EST 2012

I've always found Fukuoka's no-pruning concept fascinating. I think there
are a few things to consider before applying this strategy across the
board. One, I don't think Fukuoka was pursuing the maximum yield fallacy
and Whole Foods fruit quality. And two, I think most of the trees he was
growing were seedlings, not grafts (I could be wrong about that, but I have
heard this from several different sources). I figure pruning starts with
the graft and from then on out the tree would theoretically need
manipulation. However, if your perspective is one that is happy to share
with the wildlings and let nature take its course like Fukuoka, and your
trees are seedlings and thus adept at perfecting their own form, then one
could go without pruning. Pruning developed for several reasons,
predominantly as a way to keep trees in a desired figure for harvest (or
aesthetics), to maximize yield, fruit quality, and uniform ripening, as
well as to manage disease. In my thinking it really comes down to what the
intended use for the fruit is. If you're making your living selling fruit,
then you might be looking for high yield and visual appeal. If you just
want to keep yourself and family in fruit then it probably doesn't matter
that much. Of course there are almost always a bunch of beauties that could
be sold (or saved for special occasions).

I have found many abandoned orchards fruiting just fine with no care (in
high and dry Arizona and Colorado no less). Do to fruit quality and
diversity I assume many of those trees were grafted. Still the quality and
yield doesn't compare to heavily managed commercial fruit operations. I
have also studied very closely seedling fruit trees (trail/roadside toss,
that is) and think much of the fruit quality is just fine for cooking,
though smaller fruit makes for more processing work.

I think it is valuable work to breed fruit varieties true to seed. It's
pretty courageous work to take on considering the amount of time between
results gathering and redevelopment. It makes my appreciation and
admiration of people like Elwyn Meader and Luther Burbank well up.

After managing trees with pruning, disease/insect patrol, and fruit
thinning for three years, I got tired of it pretty quick; a little too much
work and control for my taste. It would seem more seedling fruit breeders
would do well to stem the tide of agricultural overwork.

Jason Gerhardt
Designer and Educator

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