It is coming towards the end of the period when it is safe to prune plants that are susceptible to silver leaf. There are number of fruit trees that are prone to this potentially fatal and untreatable fungal disease, most notably plum and cherry. The silver leaf fungus releases most of its infectious spores between September and May during damp or wet weather, so pruning in the summer during a dry spell is recommended. Furthermore, during the summer months the trees produce a gum in the plant tissues which helps prevent the spread of silver leaf fungal threads. Any spores that enter and germinate are unlikely to go on to cause silver leaf symptoms. Continue reading
There is a seasonal rhythm to the orchards. As the cherry and plum blossom begin to fade, the first vivid green leaves on the apple trees start to unfurl. Nestled in the middle are the nascent flower buds that with warm, sunny days will swell. Cherry and plum set the tempo for the annual blossom show, but it is the apple orchards that provide the grand finale. Continue reading
The plum trees are in blossom. The delicate white flowers emerge before the leaves, but their appearance is fleeting. Ten days and they are gone. For the keen wild forager, now is the time to scour the local hedgerows and woodlands for the plum’s early flowering cousins, the damson, bullace and sloe. Their white blossom is equally ephemeral but at this time of year these wild and semi-wild plums are easy to spot in the hedgerows. Make a mental note of their location and return in the late summer to harvest the delicious fruit. Continue reading
Orchard Origins was back at Houghton farm this week to finish pruning some two year old apple trees. While we were there, the farmer was keen to get our thoughts on his attempts at pruning a small orchard at the entrance to the farm.
The orchard, a mixture of apple, pear, plum, cherry and greengage, had not been pruned for a number of years and most of the trees had become severely overcrowded. Pruning had successfully opened up the centre of the trees which will improve air circulation and allow in more light.
But, there were also some useful learning points that we thought would be helpful to share on the blog.
- Stone fruit trees, such as cherry, plum and greengage, should only be pruned in the summer to avoid silver leaf disease.
- Restrict branch removal to one third of the total canopy in young vigorous trees; a quarter in old trees
- When cutting a large branch back to another branch [rather than the trunk] ensure that branch is at least one third the thickness of the branch you are cutting. We will blog more on this.
- Always cut branches at the branch collar.
So what and where is the branch collar? Continue reading