Multi-budded fruit trees are perfect for growers that want to maximize fruit varieties, pollination and season in a limited space. Like most fruit trees, proper maintenance is a vital part of keeping your tree healthy.
Start by reading our Fruit Tree Pruning: The Basics article which will cover the basics of tools, technique and pruning tips that can be applied to almost any deciduous fruit tree.
Now that you have an idea of the basics, we will go more in depth on pruning your new multi-budded fruit tree. Always start with clean and sharpened tools. Clean tools by simply spraying or dipping them with isopropyl alcohol and wiping them down with a cloth. Alternatively, chlorine bleach can be used if diluted to a 10% solution before use.
Our Multi-budded fruit trees come with up to 4 main scaffold branches and this guide will go over open center pruning. This pruning system keeps the main trunk short and the center is kept open with 3-4 main scaffold limbs around the open center.
Walk around your newly planted multi-budded fruit tree and identify each variety coming off of the main trunk which should be marked with a paint mark or tag. Notice how some varieties are more vigorous than others. This is identifiable by the thicker caliper of the vigorous branches and the thinner caliper of weaker branches.
To begin pruning, we will start with the 3 D's of pruning and remove all of the dead, damaged or diseased wood. This can be applied to any fruit tree of any age and should be the bare minimum of what you prune off of your fruit tree. These areas will often be dry and brittle or off in color. If you are unsure if a branch is dead or not, you can perform a scratch test. To perform this test, scratch off the top layer of bark in a small spot on the suspect branch. Just beneath the dry, outer layer of bark lies the cambium layer of bark. In a living branch, this is green; in a dead branch, it is brown and dry. Dead wood has the potential to host pests like insects and may act as a potential entry point for disease.
Now it is time to rebalance the tree. In your newly planted multi-budded fruit tree, check to see if there are grafted branches of different caliper. If your branches are all relatively equal in vigor and caliper then you can head them back evenly by removing the tips of each branch. This will encourage side branching and the development of fruiting wood. If they are branches of different caliper, then you want to leave the thinnest branch mostly in tact and only remove the terminal bud.
Now for the larger caliper branches, you need to reduce them so that they are about the same height or a bit shorter than your thinnest branch/es. In some cases, if there is good bud placement, you can reduce the very vigorous branches back to about 2-3 buds leaving room above of course for a bit of die back. Remember to to cut back to an outward facing bud. This step is important to make sure that you have even tree growth and one variety does not take over. This means that you will likely remove more wood from the vigorous branches and less wood or none at all from the weaker branches.
As mentioned in our Pruning Basics article, always look to make sure that you are cutting above an outward facing bud when reducing a live branch. By choosing an outward facing bud, you will encourage new growth in the outward direction rather than inside toward the center of the tree. Notice here how we are using the buds positioning to direct the trees future growth. This will open up the center of the tree, increase air flow, and sun exposure which will get us closer to our goal of a tree will even growth on each variety.
Protect your tree from sunburn, insects & rodents with PLANT GUARD tree paint & foliar spray.
Protect your roots from rodents with ROOT GUARD the original gopher wire basket.
Feed your fruit tree with Romeo Plant Food. This water-soluble fertilizer is great for in-ground or in-container growing.
Author: Israel Osuna