About the formation of an apple tree
Working on the formation of the crown of the apple tree is an important and indispensable point in caring for an apple tree. In this article, we will tell you why this is an important need, and when the apple tree is best formed.
Why is the crown of an apple tree formed?
There are actually plenty of reasons for pruning apple trees on time.
The first pruning is done after the seedling has been planted. With its help, the apple tree will develop correctly, since this procedure is directly related to the restoration of balance between the crown and the root system (as a rule, the small, not yet strengthened root system of the seedling is inferior in power to the ground part of the tree, and in this state the plant cannot provide with many branches and sufficient nourishment).
If you ignore the first pruning, the tree will be weak. Conversely, if a properly formed crown is directly related to excellent yields. It is worth noting that the even distribution of apple weight with proper pruning contributes to the excellent appearance of the apple tree and an excellent harvest.
With timely pruning of branches, not only the periods of fruiting of trees increase, but also their cold resistance. If everything is in order with the crown, then excellent lighting of the branches and apples is provided, which adds likes to the quality of the crop and its presentation.
As a result, I want to emphasize: with regular pruning of branches, the necessary interaction between the roots, crown and fruits of the apple tree is maintained. Therefore, this most important stage of caring for an apple tree brings not only aesthetics to its appearance, but also directly affects its health, and therefore, the harvest.
Best pruning times
The first pruning is done in the spring, regardless of when the apple tree was planted. To be more precise, the first decade of March is the most optimal time for this. At this time, the tree has not yet awakened, which is why pruning takes place in a favorable way for it. Before the leaves appear and the buds swell, each cut will have time to overgrow, and the plant will be ready to start new shoots.
Sometimes pruning is carried out in the fall days, when the foliage falls. But before the first frost. The main thing here is not to delay the timing, so that the slices have time to live up to frost.
Summer pruning is allowed only as a last resort, in order to make too large branches shorter. But if it is possible to do without this, it is better not to prune, because in the summer the apple tree gives all its strength for the active growth of new branches.
It is not worth talking about winter pruning at all, since in winter the plant sleeps, and it will not be able to tighten its cuts. In addition, during winter pruning, there is a risk of infection with various diseases.
Only in early spring can you prune the apple tree with benefit, and this manipulation will help to form a beautiful spreading crown.
About the methods of crown formation
The basis for the formation of crowns of apple trees is the balance between old branches and new emerging shoots. If you remove the excess correctly, then the apple trees will have the correct structure.
Let's talk about several ways to form the crown of a seedling.
First, strong branches (5-6 pieces) are chosen, which are located at a large angle to the main one.The first tier (half a meter from the surface of the earth) should remain with two or three shoots, and the next tiers are usually placed 0.5-0.6 meters higher.
The advantage of this method is to provide excellent illumination of the branches and fruits, as a result - the strength of the apple tree skeleton.
The disadvantage of the method concerns only beginner gardeners, because it is difficult for them to measure the required intervals during formation.
The 1st tier should consist of 3 strong branches. They are taken away about 120 degrees from one another with spacers or stretch marks. The branches are trimmed symmetrically at a distance of 0.5 m from the stem center. The main branch is cut off. As the plant grows in the central part of the crown region, all branches are cut off, including those that go inward.
The advantage of this method is that it creates a solid frame for a low-growing or short-lived tree.
Disadvantages of the method: it is necessary to constantly monitor the shoots going to the center of the crowns, you need to regularly remove them, which can cause various diseases in the tree.
Method "Vertical palmette"
First, they choose branches that can become the basis of the rows. The inter-row and lateral branches are disposed of. In the process of increasing the height of the tree, the branches that go inside the crown are removed.
The advantage of this method is the ease of formation and convenience for picking apples.
The disadvantage of this method is a decrease in yield due to constant cutting.
By the end of summer, the regrown branches are fixed in a horizontal position with stretch marks. At the beginning of the next season, the main branch is left with a length of 0.3-0.5 m, due to which the tree trunk will actively overgrow. This manipulation is done annually for seven years in a row, tracking the length of horizontal branches (they should not be longer than 1.5 meters with an apple tree height - not higher than 3 meters).
The advantage of the method is in the correct rounded crown with a large number of horizontal branches, which guarantees a high yield.
The disadvantage of this method is its laboriousness.
In the process of regrowth, strong branches are folded back with stretch marks to the surface of the earth.
Advantage of the method: perfect for places with severe frosts; also apple trees are easy to cover for the winter with insulation materials or snow.
Cons of the method: laboriousness and inconvenience of soil processing under a tree due to creeping branches.
The apple tree is left with five to six main branches, the others are removed. In the 2nd year, the tree is trimmed in a symmetrical way "herringbone" (annual shoots are cut to half the length). The main branch is also shortened.
Pros: ease of care and harvesting.
Disadvantage of the method: not suitable for all varieties; for example, weakly branching varieties in this way do not cut.
Tiers are formed at the crown, at each tier there are 4-5 contiguous branches. The distance between the skeletal levels is from 1 to 1.5 meters.
The plus of the method is in a powerful crown, which guarantees a wonderful harvest.
The disadvantages of this method are the formation of a large number of branches in whorls, due to which growth in the stem of the apple tree is weakened. Durability and frost resistance leave much to be desired.
Flat crown method
The largest branches are stretched horizontally with stretch marks. And the conductor is left at a level of 0.6 meters from them. Further, the shoots reaching the ground are removed annually and the long growths are shortened.
The advantages of the method are in the optimal illumination of the tree and in the possibility of a compact arrangement of plantings.
The disadvantages of this method are the need to constantly maintain the level of the crowns at 2.5 meters and cut off excess dense branches.
As a result, we conclude that the most popular and simplest method is the sparse-tiered one, due to which 4 to 6 skeletal branches remain, located at a distance of 0.3-0.4 meters from each other. The method of forming an apple tree is chosen based on the age of the tree. One-year-olds and two-year-olds are trimmed differently.
About one-year-old apple trees
An annual apple tree is formed from the moment of planting. While it does not have lush branches, therefore, the 1st pruning in the spring does not pursue the goal of formation. This manipulation is needed mainly to strengthen the root system, as well as to activate the strength of the plant for its subsequent growth in the summer.
The actions are as follows. Immediately as soon as the apple tree is planted in open soil, its top is cut off. In total, the tree should be about 1 meter in height.
If the seedling is thick enough, then cut off all branches that are up to 0.5 meters. The rest of the branches are carefully revised.
Those branches that are located at an acute angle to the trunk are cut. Cardinal pruning is a guarantee of the strength of an adult apple tree. And then she will surely withstand a heavy harvest.
Suddenly, your hand does not rise to cut them, then stretch them with spacers or stretch marks or fix them with a stone (an obtuse angle should form between the guides of the branch and the trunk). Over time, when the branches take a new position, the helpers are removed.
The branches, which initially took the desired location, are treated with a pruner or knife. They are shortened with a herringbone (branches from the lower tier should be 0.3 m or more, in the middle tier - shorter, etc.) The tip of the trunk is left 0.15-0.20 m higher than the shoots.
In the case of a weak or damaged trunk, the strongest branch is tied to it in a vertical manner. It is she who will become the main one in the future.
For the correct formation of the crown of a young apple tree, for a start, the branches are cut after the external buds. It is from here that a new branch will soon appear.
Thus, a strong, spreading tree is created that provides good lighting for each fruit and is able to bear a large harvest without breaking under its weight.
About pruning a two-year-old apple tree
The crown is formed in a two-year-old apple tree in the same way as in an annual apple tree. First, the apple tree is examined and 5-6 strong branches are selected, which are located at an obtuse angle to the trunk. They will become the main ones for a mature tree. Other branches are cut.
Further, strong shoots are cut off with a herringbone, that is, the lower tier of the branches is cut off behind the 4-5th bud, the middle tier is shorter, etc. It is important to keep track of the upper buds as new branches will emerge from here. They should come from the trunk and their intended direction should be in parallel with other branches.
If you see that the branches will intersect, then select the cut point higher. Here, precision is needed so that in the future the branches do not intertwine, and the crown is correctly formed. Otherwise, you should not expect a good harvest.
About the features of pruning
Of course, the competent choice of cutting sites is an important task, but not a big one in comparison with the organization of the process with the formation of the crown of a young apple tree.
Cutting branches and shoots should be done only with strong apple trees. If, for example, a tree does not take root well in a new place, then it is better to leave it alone this season. If you start pruning a weak seedling, it may die from non-healing cuts.
If you missed the moment when the crown is formed in the spring (and brought the buds to swell), then it is better not to injure the young tree, but to postpone the pruning in the fall, after the leaf fall.
Use only sharp knives, the pruning shears may damage the structure of the thin branches.
Each place of the cut is treated with oil paint or garden varnish. With this, the tree will be protected from harmful insects and various diseases, and the cuts will heal safely.
Don't get carried away with the process of pruning apple trees! As soon as the crown is first formed, they wait up to five seasons for the tree to rest and grow new branches. During this time, only damaged shoots or those that have gotten out of the correct tree skeleton scheme are removed.