samana
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Can a cherry tree be pruned at this time of year?

Just planted 2-3 yr old cherry trees about a month ago and they need some pruning. Should have done it a month ago.

I'm not sure the proper term but they are budding green foliage now (not flowers, yet atleast) - is this a bad time to be pruning?

I tried researching this and found nothing conclusive on whether it's ok to trim budding or blossoming fruit trees. Do I go ahead and prune or wait until they're done flowering ..or wait until next early spring? I know I need to head them a bit etc. Still learning, thanks for the help :)
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JONA878
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Hi Samana
Suprised that you are having to prune a cherry at such a young age.
If the branches are too strong and going skywards it would be better if you tied them down to a better angle rather than try to cut them into doing so.
If you must, then leave it until the tree has been growing for two or three months into the season. This will ensure that there is a maximum sap run to the cut wounds to help fight fungal problems like Siver Leaf.
Also paint the wounds straight away with a good fungal paint.

As you say it does help with stone fruit to control the head of the tree early in its life as it can get out of hand very quickly. Just bring the leader down to a more sensible level and always remove the strong shoot at the top and leave the weaker.
It seems the wrong thing to do at the time ...but it works like a tap to the tree. If the top is weak then the strength goes into the trees base branches , which is where you want it.
Leave the strong growth at the top and it attracts all the trees strength into even more upward growth.
Hope that helps a little
:)
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samana
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hmm everything I read says to prune newly planted trees. Even the employees at plant nurseries tell me to prune it when planting - one to get it balanced with the root ball size, two to stimulate growth and three to get off any suckers or undesirable branch placements. But I had accidently put it off too long and now it's blooming and wondering what to do about it.

I have read early summer is a terrible time to prune new trees - that it stunts growth and is best to use on older trees that you actually want to kind of slow down.
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JONA878
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samana wrote:hmm everything I read says to prune newly planted trees. Even the employees at plant nurseries tell me to prune it when planting - one to get it balanced with the root ball size, two to stimulate growth and three to get off any suckers or undesirable branch placements. But I had accidently put it off too long and now it's blooming and wondering what to do about it.

I have read early summer is a terrible time to prune new trees - that it stunts growth and is best to use on older trees that you actually want to kind of slow down.
There is a difference between Apple and pear trees and the stone fruit trees.
Apple and pears are best pruned when they are dormant dureing the winter time.
Stone fruit....plum and cherry...are best pruned when they are in full growth as thsi helps to keep fungal infection at bay.
Both plum and cherry are very prone to infection especially to Bacial Canker.
If you prune them in winter when the spores of these fungus are at their most active then you greatly increase the risk of trouble.
As to time...late summer is preferable.
On apple and pear you only prune in the summer when the tree is too thick for the fruit to get good light or you have espalier or cordon trees where such pruning is vital to maintain shape and spur initiation.
Again I say that cherry and plum are best pruned as little as possable and only then to maintain shape and growth that is getting out of hand.
Far better to use ties and weights to get tree shape on young trees than the blade.

Hope that others will give their opinions on this.
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JONA878
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Sorry....should have read Bacterial Canker.
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applestar
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Only that JONA has been a longtime member and has given us tons of valuable advice in the matter of fruit cultivation. I would rely on his experience and expertise rather than trust Internet search site articles that are written by people who don't know the first thing about gardening and are compiling words that "sound" like good advice. :wink:

Start with
There is a difference between Apple and pear trees and the stone fruit trees.
Go back to your sources, and see if they have that part down. If they do, then read on. I will add that citruses are different too. 8)

Oh, and at nurseries, keep asking questions until they get on their talkies and fetch the "expert" for you to talk to. I've managed to do that at just about all the nurseries I've visited. :wink:

samana
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thanks for all the suggestions... I am a little confused why so many are emphatic on pruning 2 yr nursery trees to balance with the root ball size. Watched many youtubes on this too. I was specifically instructed by the large nursery I bought from to chop down to balance the size and stimulate growth. Is this not really the case? And you say I should not be pruning at all? So much of what I've researched really encourages proper pruning for good fruit production and overall health.
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JONA878
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samana wrote:thanks for all the suggestions... I am a little confused why so many are emphatic on pruning 2 yr nursery trees to balance with the root ball size. Watched many youtubes on this too. I was specifically instructed by the large nursery I bought from to chop down to balance the size and stimulate growth. Is this not really the case? And you say I should not be pruning at all? So much of what I've researched really encourages proper pruning for good fruit production and overall health.
You are in a dilemma here Samana........so lets start at the begining.

This ' balance ' you are worrying about for starters.
How large is the root ball that came from the nursery?
If the tree was in a large pot then unless the top is enormous...which is doubtful on a two year old, then the root should be fine in feeding the top growth.

Now as to tree growth stimulation.
If you are gowing to grow your tree in open ground and are not going to have it trained to specific shape or control ( by that I mean as an espalier or cordon or fan ) then you have to decide style of tree you need.

By the way....what is the root stock your tree is grafted to?
If as you say it was from a good nursery then it should carry a label with its rootstock type.
This will tell you then how strong you can expect your tree to grow and how big its potential size could become.

As to style.
You have two main forms.
A centre leader tree where the main trunk is allowed to grow up and side branches form around it rather like a Christmas tree grows.
Or as an open centre tree like an up-turned umbrella shape.
How you prune it in its first few years will decide which way you go.

There is one other form where the tree is allowed to grow straight up to several feet and is then branched high up. This is the old style tree that you can sit under in your old age.
This would however require the tree to be on a strong rootstock.
Stock 2 or no weaker than a 106.

The centre leader tree....the main shoot ( leader ) is allowed to grow straight up and is just tipped to promote stiffness in its growth.
Once it has reached the hight you want the tree to stay then it is controlled by keeping this leader on the weak side. You do this by removeing any strong growth at the top of the tree and only leaving weak
growth behind.
In fact..other than the leader it is best to have no branch structure at the top of the tree that is older than three years. This keeps the cropping wood where you can reach it and stops the tree heading for the sky.

The open centre tree is the one that needs far less detail work on it as it is allowed to grow in a much more free form.
This tree is started by cutting the centre leader at the point where you want the main branch structure to come from. You then let the branches spread from that point and this is where a little judicial tying down can get the structure into the position you want it without continual cutting.

How much pruning you do is your descision.
Growers do as little as possable in the trees early life so that they get their tree to fill its alloted space as quickly as possable and into cropping.

Do check though what roots stock your tree is on. Very important in how your tree may develope.

:?
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soil
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i would wait until next winter to prune it. this way the plant can store as much energy as possible over the first summer and fall for winter, then when you prune in the winter, the left over branches will now get the energy that the whole tree collected and grow much faster.

also pruining now will make the tree bleed sap most likely. not what you want really.
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JONA878
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soil wrote:i would wait until next winter to prune it. this way the plant can store as much energy as possible over the first summer and fall for winter, then when you prune in the winter, the left over branches will now get the energy that the whole tree collected and grow much faster.

also pruining now will make the tree bleed sap most likely. not what you want really.
Agree Soil as regards Apple and Pears.....but not for plum and cherry.
As I have said, Stone fruits need to be pruned when they are in full sap run. This ' bleeding ' helps keep the spores of Silver Leaf and Bacterial Canker from infecting the wound.
Winter pruning of stone fruit is a dicey risk as it is giving these spores a long time to infect and geminate in the open wounds which will not be healing over until the spring.
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samana
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Thanks to all for all the helpful advice.

Why is it that so many resources are prune happy... it's disappointing being so new to gardening and finding out the people I'm learning from aren't giving me correct advice - great!
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j3707
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Great thread! I had the exact same question as samana. The info so far has been very helpful, thanks folks. JONA878 - I'm still digesting your advice...much appreciated...

I have 3 dwarf cherries I put in the ground late winter. Two, Vandalay and Lapin, are bare root trees on Gisela 5 rootstock. The third was potted. It is a Bing. I don't know the rootstock, just that the card said height/spacing about 10 feet. I haven't done any pruning. They are all about 4 feet high.

JONA - Would one of the pruning forms you mentioned be better suited to dwarf cherries? Of the two bare root trees, one looks like it it in a central leader style, the other is just a whip with one branch. The potted Bing looks like it might be of the "old style" you mentioned. It has about 3 feet of bare trunk and then a whole bunch of short branches, all well leafed out. These are all behind my house, spaced 12 feet from each other in a row about 8 feet from the house.

JONA878
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Hi j3707
I would leave your trees in their natural shape if you can ...the problem with trained cherry is the fact that it means a lot of cutting and tying and that's not the best thing as regards fungal control.
The potted tree souds as if the branch ' breaks ' are just about the perfect hight to give you a nice low branch system that should make the tree easier to control later on in its life.
The one that is just a whip I would take a couple of inches off the main leader to try and encourage a few of the stem buds to break and give you a few more future branches.
The one that looks like a centre leader let it alone until it gets to the hight that you want to keep it at. Then cut the strong centre leader off leaving a weak shoot at the top. this will help to keep the growth strength down low were it is wanted.
Hope that helps....good luck.
By the way...although there are dwarfing stocks for cherries they are not nearly as effective as the stocks for apples ....so be aware that your trees will still have the capability to get quite tall.
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samana
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Such great info here. I was looking at my cherries today and have what may be really a dumb question but when looking at the lowest branches... that are maybe a foot or so off the ground on some of my trees - I'm wondering will those be higher someday - as in, does the tree grow from literally the ground up, or does it grow 'up' from previous growth, such as a leader getting taller, with new branching. Or what I'm assuming logically it must be a bit of both? I would prefer the lowest branches to be higher up from the ground once the whole tree is bigger - wondering if those are going to be higher as the tree (trunk) grows so to speak.
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JONA878
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On most fruit trees when they are just a couple of years old a branch that is around knee high will finish about waist high once the tree is fully grown.
In any case low branches can always be removed later in the trees life ..but are more difficult to get.
As a rule I would remove anything that was below knee height as they will never be high enough.....but if your tree has no other branches then I would leave them for a couple of years so the tree has a food source from those leaves until it can produce a higher framework.
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j3707
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Thanks JONA - I like the minimal pruning philosophy. Speaking of bacterial or fungal infection, the leaves in the middle of that one branch on the bare root whip are curling up and dying. Nothing like it happening on the other trees. I read new transplants are especially susceptible. Still trying to figure out what it is and whether I need to cut the branch off. Here's a link to a couple photos.

[url]https://www.flickr.com/photos/40368264@N03/[/url]

Also need to pull on your ear about an apricot I've got...maybe a new thread...

JONA878
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Ah J.
Not to happy with that photo...looks suspiciously like die back is happening on that branch.
Look along the stem of the branch and see if you can find a lesion...( looks rather like a scab..)..if you do then cut that branch off below that lesion area into clean fresh wood.
A great enemy of plums is Bacterial Canker and 'die back' should always be treated with caution and removed and burnt.
It's a good idea to paint the wound with a fungicidal paint after cutting.
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j3707
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Pruned off the whole branch. Here's a picture...definitely some lesions.


[url]https://www.flickr.com/photos/40368264@N03/5778731007/in/photostream[/url]


Didn't have any anti-fungicidal paint on hand. I'll try to get some tomorrow.

j3707
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Also...once a tree has been infected like this, should I be expecting further outbreaks?

Is there a chance the tree could become established and have no further problems?

JONA878
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Afraid it could be either of those J.
It will all depend if the fungus has penetrated into the trees system.
As a general rule Canker and similar fungi only move up through the tree and not downwards.
Just keep a close eye on your tree each spring and prepare to cut off any die back that you find.
If you have no fungal paint then try to get some.....but re-cut a little off the old cut before painting as if a cut is left unprotected for any length of time spores could settle and subsequent painting would just make a seal over them.
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sheeshshe
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The local orchard where we purchased our trees from told us to prune them as well... they gave us a guide with which trees get pruned which way and what to prune the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year. which month to do it etc.


it says what to prune each year... and reasoning is, so that the tree isn't putting energy into growing branches that you aren't going to want to end up with anyways, so that the tree can focus on the ones you want in the end.

I guess there probably isn't a right or a wrong way to grow a tree?
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

JONA878
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Of course your right Sheeshshe.
Apples and pears as a rule need pruning every year to maintain a good shape and to keep the trees cropping wood young and healthy.
What I would say though is that unless you are training a tree into one of the more elaborate shapes.....cordon, espalier or fan for example...then in the first three or so years the tree should not need much done to it at all. Unless it has a week centre leader or lacks enough feathers to give it a good branch structure in the future.
Usually a light tipping to strengthen branches and keep the leader strong is enough.
It is important though that you buy a good well feathered tree to start with.
With a poor quality tree you will always be playing catch up to get the shape and branch structure you need.

As far as the stone fruits are concerned though ( plum, cherry, gage etc.)the less pruning you can do the better.
They are so prone to bacterial and fungal infection that you will always be taking a risk every time you take a blade to them.
If you have to cut them then carry a fungal paint with you and paint the wound straight away.
:?
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sheeshshe
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that makes sense. I guess they are prone to the fungal stuff. mine died this year and I think it has a fungus. where my other trees are still doing fine. well, I guess its dead. I don't know how to get it to grow back anyways. I'm sure its not completely dead yet.

so the less cutting of the stone fruits, the better. noted :) I don't know if I'll get a replacement or not, but if I do I will keep that in mind for sure. I'd like to get a new one, but if its just going to die then why bother. my neighbors didnt die :(
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

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