Formation of a cup-shaped crown of apple orchard
You want to plant an apple orchard. Branch pruning is necessary when planting young apple trees for further formation of the crown. It affects the shape of a tree and the crop you are going to gather. Gardeners use different types of pruning and crown formation of apple orchard.
Practice has shown that an apple tree must grow naturally. For the convenience of further maintenance it must have a short stem. The crown of such tree must be compact and should let maximum amount of sunlight through. This helps even distribution of crop on branches. We are going to tell you about a cup-shaped or deliquescent crown of apple fruit tree and its formation. Practice indicates that such pruning helps increase the crop capacity of an apple orchard.
In the first year of planting a fruit tree in an apple orchard, you have to pay attention to deepening of grafting place. The fruit tree is planted in such way that the place of grafting is not higher than 1” above ground. The top of young fruit tree is cut that the cutoff height is around 3 ft. above ground. This is necessary for the formation of main lateral branches during the first season.
Before the beginning of the season choose four main branches on the fruit tree, it is desirable that they are the ones that have grown at a big angle to the trunk. These are first-order branches. Cut them so that the cutoffs are at the same level. Cutoff extent depends on the size of the branches. You should estimate the branch length according to weaker branches that should be cut on one third. Cut the branch so that the last bud is directed outside. When the fruit tree starts to grow, this bud will form the external branch. The rest of the branches should be removed. This will stimulate the growth even more.
Next year there are 4 boughs with new branches. You cut 4 first-order boughs and choose one strong branch on each of them, cutting them at the same level. They are called secondorder branches. Now your tree has 8 branches that form the crown. All other grown branches, which are not needed for crown formation, should be cut leaving 4 buds on each of them. In the future they will become fruit bearing branches. During this season fruit tree will form the third-order branches.
Next year you should cut all branches on one third again: those of first, second and third order so that they are all at the same level. Branches should be cut leaving the last external bud. The other third-order branches should be left untouched, because there will be fruit bearing buds growing on them.
Now you see that the crown of the tree is already formed, and the tree is ready for bearing. Here is how you should make the pruning. To decrease the growth rate of a tree you have to shorten the leader branches and cut the competing branches. Sometimes you should even cut the leader so that the last bud left on the tip produced more spreading of a tree. Grown external branches should not be cut. Internal branches should be cut, but not removed, to stimulate growth of numerous small branches.
In the future, make such pruning every year to maintain the size of the apple tree and good light interception for all branches. This procedure will allow you to have good crops and fruits of best quality. With the time passing, the tree is getting older, the fruit is getting smaller and fruit-bearing branches are growing badly. That’s why you have to make intense pruning. If the annual branch growth decreases, you should make rejuvenating pruning. It means cutting all old branches, including fruit-bearing ones.
This should be done because fruit-bearing branches will not allow to renew the tree’s braches. Large branches are also cut according to pruning rules. While making rejuvenating pruning, cut the branches to the level when the branch growth was not less than 8 inches. This kind of pruning will help prolong the life of the apple tree to many years and will substantially increase the crop in your apple orchard in the future.