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Apple tree trimming

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Irishred

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Hi all,

We are wanting to get the orchard by our house in better shape. I don't know how old it is, but I know the owners father planted sometime after they bought the place I think in the 40s There are about 40 trees in a variety of 6 different kinds of apples, There are also a couple rows of grapes and white muscadines but that is a hole 'nother ball game. I believe there is a walnut tree as well.

Four specific things I need help or information about:
1) how much can you trim off a tree per year and it still survive/produce?
2) Is there anything that should be put onto large stubs (from a removed branch) and is it necessary to put it on smaller ones?
3) Most of the trees have gotten pretty tall (25ft at least) and the apples on the tops are unreachable by any means I have available and that includes the young teen's climbing skills. Should part of our trimming include shortening?
4) The south of the trees are shaded quite a bit by over growth of trees (lots of pine) along the river bank that I am sure were kept back/ to a minimum years ago but have been left in more recent times. Is this a problem and how much of one.

I remember looking at some information about apple orchards when we first moved here 4 years ago but don't remember most of it. About all I remember is the best time to trim is January and February and to trim the 'suckers'(?) off. Well, these trees are sadly over grown but still produce wonderful apples.

Any suggestions on books about orchards I may find at the library, or a website with helpful information would be great. Or just tips here would be too. I took some pictures today, but still need to get them off the camera. will post soon.

Thank you.
 

Jogeephus

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There are several sizes of trees. Standard, semi-dwarf, dwarf and super dwarf. Sounds like you have a standard root stock so topping them is questionable. There are some cupped fruit picking baskets you can put on a long stick that will help you with the high picking. So from a scientific view, putting salve or paste on pruned limbs is not neccessary since there are millions of spores in the air and infection can take place before you ever get the tar on it. Tar is more of a mental salve than anything else. Biggest thing on pruning is to dip your shears in alcohol after each and every cut cause you don't want to spread any disease from tree to tree. Particularly fire blight.

To me, if the trees are bearing good sized fruit and in ample numbers I wouldn't do anything to them other than some thinning of the crowded limbs. If it ain't broke don't fix it.
 

Nesikep

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you can trim them a lot!, I pruned an orchard once that hadn't been done in years.. i have pictures of before and after, and there's a drastic differance (you can see through the tree)

for pruning, we never had to cut anything bigger than what shears could handle...

you want the tree to have space between it's limbs, and to fill in blank areas, when you prune a branch that you're intending to keep, look at which direction the buds are facing, the bud will become a branch, and will grow in the direction it's facing, A rule of thumb we used was keep 3 buds on a branch if you're just trimming it back, and you can go with a bud more or less depending on what you need to find one that faces the right direction. Pretty much anything that was growing straight up got cut since we wanted to be able to reach the top of the trees somehow.


Hope that helps somewhat.. if I stumble upon the pictures, i'll scan them and post them, but don't hold your breath for that
 

mermill2

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Being a former apple grower,may qualify me to try to advise you.Top those old standard trees back to about 16 to 18 ft.CUT out any dead wood.Take out all the suckers and water sprouts.PAINT any large woulds with white paint.I suggest that you attend a fruit tree class put on by a university or extension service.VA and WV both have excellent programs.
 

mobgrazer

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I always thought green paint worked well (blends in). You use white paint because it will not absorb as much heat as other colors.

The paint is to help seal the fresh cuts. It is to help with keeping out bacteria and help the tree heal up faster. Depending on the time of year they can lose a lot of sap out of a large cut and can stunt the trees growth.

It sounds like you need to chop out a lot so you need to do it when it’s still good and cold. If you weight till it gets warm it will stunt the growth. You will want some growth after a heavy pruning. I pay someone to cut my apple trees every 3 to 5 years. I will trim them but will not butcher them.
 

mermill2

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mobgrazer":11cc1mz7 said:
I always thought green paint worked well (blends in). You use white paint because it will not absorb as much heat as other colors.

The paint is to help seal the fresh cuts. It is to help with keeping out bacteria and help the tree heal up faster. Depending on the time of year they can lose a lot of sap out of a large cut and can stunt the trees growth.

It sounds like you need to chop out a lot so you need to do it when it’s still good and cold. If you weight till it gets warm it will stunt the growth. You will want some growth after a heavy pruning. I pay someone to cut my apple trees every 3 to 5 years. I will trim them but will not butcher them.
Ditto. Never thought about green paint, it makes sense, though.
 

Jogeephus

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mermill2":212wc0cf said:
mobgrazer":212wc0cf said:
I always thought green paint worked well (blends in). You use white paint because it will not absorb as much heat as other colors.

The paint is to help seal the fresh cuts. It is to help with keeping out bacteria and help the tree heal up faster. Depending on the time of year they can lose a lot of sap out of a large cut and can stunt the trees growth.

It sounds like you need to chop out a lot so you need to do it when it’s still good and cold. If you weight till it gets warm it will stunt the growth. You will want some growth after a heavy pruning. I pay someone to cut my apple trees every 3 to 5 years. I will trim them but will not butcher them.
Ditto. Never thought about green paint, it makes sense, though.

Must be a difference in region cause the professors here say that most people put paint on wounds for psychological and/or aesthetic reasons as it does little if any good in preventing pathogens from entering the tree. Main thing is to make the cut as clean as possible and as flush as possible. We do paint the stems of young pecan trees to prevent them from freezing but we never paint prunings.
 

mobgrazer

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Jogeephus":1b8zynag said:
Must be a difference in region cause the professors here say that most people put paint on wounds for psychological and/or aesthetic reasons as it does little if any good in preventing pathogens from entering the tree. Main thing is to make the cut as clean as possible and as flush as possible. We do paint the stems of young pecan trees to prevent them from freezing but we never paint prunings.

I have seen a few pros use something on large cuts but I don’t know what it is. The guy that trims my fruit trees every few years dose not use anything on cuts but he never cuts out large chunks.

I do agree that making a few cuts then make the last cut as clean as possible is the best. If I cut a branch bigger around then my fist I’m dropping the rest of the tree; unless I’m undercutting.

I just finished doing a search on this and wikipedia has some good info on this but I think I now know how this got started. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_paint

But I still think green would look better then white because it would blend in to the leaf color. This is biased off you thinking you have to use any…
 

Jogeephus

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Personally, I think the whole idea of painting a tree is six one way half dozen another. It could be argued that painting a tree could keep a pathogen out but it could also be argued that you are sealing all those pathogens in with the paint. Kinda like bandaids I guess. I never use them either.
 

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