Gardeners usually dream of compact fruit trees. But most of the adult apple and pear trees in our dachas are giants. But the height of these plants can be controlled! Small trees are much easier to care for and easier to harvest. Small-sized crowns are well lit and ventilated, which has a positive effect on the fruits and on the health of the tree. How to stop tree branches from growing back?
Why Should You Cut Tree Branches
Pruning of tree branches from growing is carried out in order to form a tree, regulate growth and fruiting, improve the quality of fruits, improve the illumination of the crown, rejuvenate, remove dry, diseased and damaged branches. It makes it possible to grow trees of the required size with a strong trunk that can withstand large fruit harvests, ensures long-term preservation of the productivity of overgrown wood and obtaining high-quality fruits.
After planting the garden and before its entry into fruiting, pruning is carried out in order to form trees of the same type in the height of the stem, the number and location of stable skeletal branches of the crown along the conductor, taking into account the biological characteristics of breeds and varieties.
During the fruiting period, pruning tree branches provides an annual increase of sufficient length, laying a moderate number of flower buds, protects the crown from thickening, maintaining the necessary lighting inside it by thinning the branches. Pruning allows you to replace old fruit formations with young ones, preserve and create fruit formations along the entire length of the branches.
There are the following tasks of pruning trees:
- Maintaining and improving the crown of the tree, the plant looks well-groomed and attractive;
- Regulation of the growth and development of culture in the garden;
- Increasing the number of harvested crops, improving the quality of each fruit (size, taste);
- Prevention of thickening of branches, which leads to diseases and a decrease in the yield of the tree;
- Timely removal of diseased shoots is a measure to combat the spread of the disease and the death of an entire tree;
- Rejuvenation of the tree, the cut branches become stronger and thicker, they are able to give a high-quality harvest and withstand a larger number of fruits.
There are two ways of pruning fruit trees: thinning, when the entire branch is completely removed, as gardeners say, on the ring, and shortening, when a part of the branch is usually removed over the bud of annual shoots or on a side branch-over a branch of old branches.
When pruning a tree, one or another part of the crown, its skeletal and overgrown branches are removed. This violates the necessary correspondence of the main parts of the tree that has been established in the plant. Such a violation causes increased growth in the tree and ensures the restoration of the disturbed balance.
After pruning, new increments appear in the tree, more or less strong, depending on the age and condition of the tree, the degree and method of pruning, the time of its implementation and on which part of the crown the pruning was done, etc.
How to Stop Tree Branches from Growing Back
Incorrect and inept pruning tree can lead to excessive thickening of the crown, to later fruiting and a decrease in the winter hardiness of fruit trees due to poor aging of the wood and prolonged growth of shoots at the end of the growing season.
In the practice of amateur gardening, mistakes in pruning have undesirable consequences. On many sites of horticultural associations, you can see such a picture. Fruit trees have too high a stem (up to 2 m) or the main skeletal branches are exposed to the same height. The first situation arose from the fact that in the first years after planting the garden, amateur gardeners did not carry out the formation of the crown of trees or in a more mature state they had to cut out the main skeletal branches that died from improper pruning of trees.
The second situation is observed in areas where the gardener, wanting to somehow thin out the crown, cuts out the completely overgrown wood with a pruner to the height of an outstretched arm. From such pruning, the fruiting zone is transferred to the upper parts of the crown, the productivity of fruit trees decreases, and the care of the crown and the crop is significantly hampered.
How the crown of a fruit tree is formed largely determines its further productivity, the convenience of caring for the crown, the size and quality of the crop, the strength of skeletal branches, the nature and strength of their growth. The crown, formed without the participation of the gardener, usually has a large amount of unproductive wood, is one-sided, fragile and inconvenient to work with.
Highly branching varieties of fruit tree create excessive thickening of the crown, in varieties with weak shoot-producing ability, on the contrary, the crowns are rare, with bare branches. The main skeletal branches often depart at an acute angle, so in gardens where the crown was not formed, branches are broken off, and sometimes the trunk is split.
Before starting pruning, every gardener should know why this is done. In addition to the above tasks, we should not forget that pruning greatly activates and even changes the biochemical processes in plants.
Under its influence, the sugar content increases in the shoots of fruit crops at the beginning of the growing season due to changes in the flow of nutrients to the places of injury of branches, pruning improves the conditions of water supply of the remaining growth points on the tree and the conditions of their nutrition.
Almost all parts of the aboveground system of fruit trees are pruned, so it is absolutely necessary for every amateur gardener to know about the structure of the main parts of the fruit tree, their purpose and functions.
A young tree in the first years of life, during the so-called growth period, gives strong vegetative growth of the trunk and skeletal branches of the first orders and few weakly growing branches. A small number of skeletal branches grow at the ends (apical buds), and the volume of the crown increases rapidly, but crowns are rare.
The main task of pruning fruit trees in this first period is the formation of the tree, its trunk and the main skeletal branches of the crown, their correct and uniform placement in different directions, regulation of their growth and acceleration of the formation of overgrown branches-future carriers of the first harvests.
To do this, individual skeletal branches of the tree are systematically shortened in such a way that the main skeletal branches give stronger gains; temporary skeletal branches that are worse located, less durable, are cut off more so that they do not interfere with the main ones;
in summer, if necessary, additional pinching of the lateral branches is carried out to turn them into semi-skeletal and cover them with overgrown branches. In apple trees of different varieties, this growth period lasts up to about 5-6 years, and only in late-ripening varieties-up to 10 years.
The Period of Growth and Fruiting
In the second period of life of the tree – the period of growth and fruiting-the tree continues to have strong growth of skeletal branches of different orders, the number of skeletal branches increases, the crown thickens, a greater number of overgrown branches are formed and the first fruits appear. Harvests at the beginning of the period are irregular, the fruits are placed inside the crown on the first overgrown twigs.
Pruning of fruit trees during this period consists in the further formation of the crown of the tree, for which the annual increments of the conductors and the lateral skeletal branches are shortened, while observing the strict subordination of the skeletal branches to the conductor and the lateral branches of the higher order to the branches of the lower orders.
Excess skeletal branches of the tree that thicken the crown are sometimes removed entirely, on the ring or partially over the lateral branch without leaving a stump-thorn. Thus, the crown is thinned, which provides better access of light and air to the inner parts of the crown, where the crop is mainly located.
The Period of Fruiting and Growth of the Tree
In the next period – the period of fruiting and growth, the progressive growth (at the ends) of skeletal branches gradually weakens and then stops completely by the end of the period. The crown reaches the largest size for this variety under these conditions.
A mass of semi-skeletal and overgrown branches is formed throughout the crown. Inside the crown, the oldest, less well-lit fouling branches begin to die off; the lower parts of the skeletal branches are exposed. Fruit yields are increasing and reaching the largest sizes.
In this period, the fruits are of high quality. By the end of the period, the frequency of fruiting is revealed in most apple varieties (most often after a year).
Pruning of fruit trees during this period consists in the systematic easy thinning of excess skeletal branches that thicken the crown and interfere with each other, and the removal of shrinking small branches. It is necessary to maintain a stronger growth at the ends of skeletal branches during this period, as this ensures the appearance of new overgrowing branches and an increase in yield.
To do this, the upper parts of the increments are shortened along the periphery of the crown. At the end of this period, a light rejuvenation is performed, that is, it is cut off for more mature wood. The place where this pruning should be carried out is determined by the presence of sufficiently strong gains in recent years (more than 20-25 centimeters).
In this period of life, such rejuvenation is usually done by cutting off three or four-year-old wood. New, stronger gains also give more productive overgrowing branches, which ensure high yields.
The Period of Full Fruiting of the Tree
In the next period – the period of full fruiting, the volume of the crown remains one and the same size, the yields are the largest (by weight), but the fruits are already somewhat smaller, their shedding increases, the frequency of fruiting is more sharply revealed.
The growth of skeletal branches stops, the ends of all branches give only weak gains and turn into fouling ones, the drying of the fouling branches increases, and the inner part of the crown becomes barer and barer;
partially semi-skeletal and fouling branches also shrink in the peripheral part of the crown on skeletal branches of higher orders. The fruits are placed mainly closer to the periphery of the crown.
Pruning of fruit trees during this period is to regulate the growth and fruiting of the crown in a given volume in such a way as to strengthen the annual growth and, by reducing the number of weak overgrowing branches, improve the nutrition of the rest. To do this, thinning is done and weaker skeletal branches are cut out with all the overgrown branches on them.
Skeletal branches are also shortened by about five-eight-year-old, and sometimes even more mature wood to the place where there were strong gains in previous years. Heavily thickened, neglected crowns are thinned out not immediately, but gradually, over 2-3 years; with gradual pruning, the tree suffers less. Rejuvenation is also better to be carried out not immediately in one year, but gradually, over 2-3 years.
The Period of Fruiting and Drying of the Tree
During the period of fruiting and drying and in the subsequent period, the dying of branches increases, the ends of skeletal branches on the periphery of the crown begin to dry out, and over time, both inside the crown and the wood shrinks more than it grows again. Inside the crown, “tops” appear – new strong gains of the skeletal type.
Over time, the volume of the tree crown is significantly reduced, and tops, even stronger, appear already in the depth of the crown on the lower bare sections of the branches. As a result, yields are reduced and the fruits are very small.
Pruning of fruit trees during this period is a further stronger rejuvenation of the crown. The skeletal branches are shortened to more mature wood (on a side branch or on a top), the bare unproductive temporary skeletal branches are cut out and new crown sections are formed on the tops.
At the same time, the yield increases and improves, given that the fruits are placed on younger and stronger increments. It is necessary to monitor the rejuvenated crown all the time, cut out excess shoots and give the right direction to the newly growing branches.
Rejuvenated trees with good fertilizer and careful tillage will give a normal harvest in 3-4 years. It is better to rejuvenate not all the old trees at once, but gradually, for example, through one tree. More information about prunning you’ll find in this video:
It is not customary to make two large wounds next to each other on the trunk.
- It is necessary to cut branches of the tree without stumps – they interfere with wound healing, crack, rot and lead to the formation of hollows.
- Oblique cuts significantly increase the size of the wound, they heal worse and take longer.
- The sections made with a saw are cleaned with a garden knife, then covered with garden pitch, water-based or oil paint. You can read about the saw for cutting trees in our NEW article
- If there are not many slices, they can be covered with plasticine – it includes petrolatum, which stimulates the overgrowth of wounds.
- A fungicide is added to any putty-usually copper sulfate.
- As a putty, you can also use a mixture of clay and mullein (2:1), diluted to the density of sour cream, in which wool, a fractional section of hay or straw are added for viscosity.
Safety concerns pruning processes and garden equipment issues:
- Sharp, heavy objects should not be thrown, only passed from hand to hand. Each of them should have its own cover during transportation.
- During the procedure, use gloves that will prevent damage, the occurrence of splinters.
- Keep children away from tools that are dangerous for them.
- Timely sharpen pruning shears, knives. For storage, hooks are suitable, on which you can hang an object.
- When pruning, use a stepladder or a ladder with wide steps. Do not do pruning in the rain and on wet stairs.
- Wear comfortable shoes so as not to slip.
F. A. Q
How do you stop a branch from growing back?
Depending on the age of the fruit tree or berry plant, various types of pruning are distinguished. The forming one is responsible for the formation of a strong skeleton, the uniform placement of skeletal, semi-skeletal and overgrown branches, the creation of conditions for good illumination and (as a result) obtaining a quick harvest. In practice, all types of pruning are combined. In different periods of the tree’s life, different types of pruning are used. During growth and development of the tree – forming, at full fruiting of the tree – regulating, and during aging of the tree – rejuvenating.
Should you seal cut tree limbs?
If the tree is young, strong, healthy, and the pruning is done correctly, it is often really possible to do without processing. With a good ability to regenerate and high-quality care, the tree will safely heal the wounds inflicted. But to understand whether a particular plant has the necessary potential, and whether there is a real threat of infection, a gardener needs both experience and intuition. If you are not sure – it is better to insure yourself and cover the sections with garden pitch. Gradually, along with experience, understanding and the ability to find the optimal solution in any situation will come. One thing is beyond doubt: if you are processing slices, you should use only proven, high-quality formulations.
How do you stop trees from sprouting after pruning?
It can be cut in spring, early, or late autumn, when the plants are pacified. Do not disturb them in winter and summer. Some manage to produce works in late summer, but this is not appropriate. Trees during this period need to spend all their strength on growth, and not on healing wounds.
However, there is an exception. If the tree is young, it has a good growth rate. At the same time, it does not bear fruit yet. The removal of some shoots in this case is permissible and may even be useful, because the useful substances will go to the remaining shoots, which can further increase the number of fruits. It is possible to prune young animals starting from early spring.
One more exception is pruning in winter. But this is for those cases when the amount of work is large. When a large area is planted. In such a situation, the work is carried out either during a thaw, or at a temperature not lower than-10⁰. At lower temperatures, the wood will heal poorly.
How do you seal tree branches?
Cleaned and disinfected saw or wound after drying, it is necessary to cover up with a special tool. If this is not done, even if the infection does not get into it, the untreated wound is prone to cracking. Sometimes the cracks are very deep, which will worsen the well-being of the entire tree.
The most common remedy is garden decoction. It is better to choose a white decoction. It is not only practical, but also looks great after wound treatment.
For particularly large damages and hollows, using a garden decoction is expensive and impractical. Cement mortar is prepared for them and wounds and hollows are sealed with them. Also, large wounds can be sealed with a thick chatterbox made of clay, mullein and ash. It does not last long, but it can always be updated, and almost every gardener has the ingredients.
The cuts are very well covered with water-based paints. Only you need to be careful that, moving in the crown, you do not get dirty in it yourself. In this regard, garden decoction is more advantageous. Only in cold weather, the emulsion is preferable, since the decoction freezes and does not want to lie down in a thin layer.