Losing a branch through storm damage or from the weight of too much fruit can create unwanted gaps in the canopy. Cut Three in our Guide To Best Pruning Practice, is useful when you want to stimulate the growth of new shoots so that the tree can develop a replacement limb. This particular cut needs to come with a health warning, though, as it is the most misunderstood and misused pruning cut. Unlike Cut One, you will be pruning two-year or older wood so it is important to understand how the tree will respond. Continue reading
Young trees if not pruned develop weak branches bearing excessive fruit early in their lives, but reduced crops as they mature. They develop their own shape, rather than the one the orchard owner wants, usually with an excess of crowded, vertical material. With correct pruning in the early years, the tree will develop a strong structure of framework branches that will crop well and be easier to manage in the future. In our last blog, we introduced our Guide to Best Pruning Practice in Four Cuts. These are the four essential pruning cuts that once mastered will provide you with the tools to manage your fruit trees throughout their life. This blog will look at Cut One which is used to promote strong, new growth. Continue reading
Why do we prune a tree? The simplest answer is to give the tree the best chance of a long, productive life. There are, though, many reasons for pruning. For fruit, we want light and air penetrating the centre of the tree; to benefit wildlife, we may want to rebalance a tree that is no longer productive so that it remains standing; or we may just want to create an attractive shape.
Most pruning guides get very complicated very quickly. We will show you 4 cuts and how the tree will respond to them. Each pruning cut has a specific purpose such as controlling growth, removing damaged or badly placed branches or stimulating the formation of flowers and fruits. Once you understand how a tree will react to being cut in these 4 ways, you have the tools to manage your fruit trees. Of course, you can choose to get into the complicated stuff – but start here. Continue reading
The orchard at Houghton Farm had been neglected for a number of years. To bring the trees under control, they were pruned hard last winter. Orchard Origins spent a day last week cutting out some of the unwanted shoots that had sprouted up in response. They were crowding the canopy and the centre of the trees and were preventing light from reaching the ripening fruit. Continue reading
Apple trees bear fruit in different ways. Where on the branch the fruit is produced, determines how the tree should be pruned. The cropping habit of different apple cultivars falls into three main categories:
- spur bearing
- tip bearing
- partial tip bearing
Orchard Origins is entering an exciting new phase as it becomes a Community Interest Company. We currently help maintain eleven acres of orchard owned and managed by the Herefordshire Nature Trust, as well as over twenty or so private orchards. Each week we are contacted by landowners who are keen to work with us. As we grow and take on further orchards, we are on the lookout for more volunteers. If you enjoy being outside and learning new skills or are just keen to understand more about Herefordshire’s orchard heritage why not come and join us? It’s a friendly and fun atmosphere with plenty of tea and coffee breaks.
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.
Mixed orchard after pruning
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
Planting a cider apple and perry pear orchard at Houghton Feb 2013
Orchard Origins went back to the Houghton Project this week to prune the apple and pear trees we planted a year ago. Pruning a tree in its early years – known as formative pruning – helps it to develop a strong, basic branch structure. As discussed in a previous post Winter or Summer Pruning, formative pruning is best done in the winter when the tree is still dormant.
Autumn is the traditional time of year to plant fruit trees. Apples are always a popular choice. With more than 2000 cultivars to choose from in the UK, there is a tree to suit every garden and every palate. Once established, a tree will produce fruit year after year and provide an important source of food and shelter for birds and insects.
Buying a fruit tree is a long term investment, so it is important to purchase them from a reputable tree nursery that can advise on the right tree for your orchard or garden. Trees are sold as bare-root or container-grown. Most experts would advise buying trees bare-root, but what is the difference? Continue reading
Too often apple trees produce a poor crop: the few apples that do form sit high up in the canopy out of reach. Why is this? Understanding where the domestic apple’s ancestors came from sheds some light on the problem.
The domestic apple, Malus pumila, isn’t native to Western Europe but originates from Central Asia. The foothills of the Tian Shan mountain range, on the Kazakhstan /China border, were once covered with vast fruit forests where apple, pear, plum and even apricots grew in abundance. Sadly, only small fragments of these forests remain today. Continue reading