Table of contents:
Video: Pruning Fruit Trees Ensures Harvest
Branch - "recorder" of the fruit tree
A fruit plant is a complex organism that requires knowledge of its biological characteristics and the ability to help it in its growth, development, and fruiting. Only in this case can one count on its longevity, obtaining an annual harvest of high-quality fruits. The tree's "requests" and its hint "what to do" are visible to the naked eye, one has only to look closely at its perennial branch.
The latter is a plant recorder. She will tell about many things: her age (and the age of the plant), how the plant felt all these years, whether there will be a harvest this year and what kind, what the gardener needs to do in terms of pruning, etc. You just need to know. " the language of the plant, to be able to receive information from it in a timely manner.
So, reader, let's, while there is still time, let's "plunge" into the biology of the fruit plant.
A branch, like the whole tree as a whole, grows from a bud. Thus, the bud is the fundamental principle of the plant, its most important element. She is a rudimentary shoot in a state of relative dormancy. The plant has a huge number of buds, differing in their functions, location, awakening time.
By the nature of the neoplasms developing from the buds, they are divided into growth (vegetative) and fruit (flowering, generative, reproductive). Growth buds are small in size, with a pointed apex and an expanded base. Fruit - larger, rounded, tapering to the base. These differences become clearly visible closer to spring.
Fruit buds are laid in the year preceding flowering. In stone fruit - in early June, in pome - in late July, early August. An adult tree forms 40-60 thousand flowers. If an ovary was formed from each flower, and a fruit was formed from each ovary, then from one tree we would collect 5-7 tons of fruits. This has not yet been done by anyone. For one simple reason: the tree is not able to feed such abundant offspring. Most of the flowers are reserve. To form a normal harvest, it is enough for a plant to use 8-10% of the total number of flowers. Most of the ovary also falls off.
× Gardener's handbook Plant nurseries Stores of goods for summer cottages Landscape design studios
And now a novice gardener, who has not yet had time to recover from the horror experienced by the sight of fallen flowers, is ready to shout "guard": an ovary is literally pouring in front of his eyes, abundantly covering the ground. The crumbling of the ovary is caused, first of all, by its excessive amount, a defect in pollination and fertilization, and a lack of nutrients in the soil and water. It usually goes in three waves.
The first wave - immediately after flowering (small and unfertilized ovary falls off).
The second wave begins 1-2 weeks after flowering and lasts about two weeks (the ovary crumbles with incomplete fertilization).
The third wave is observed 15-40 days after flowering, this is the so-called June "cleansing" of the ovary. During this period, due to a lack of nutrition, especially nitrogen, and poor water regime, a well-fertilized ovary can also fall off.
And, nevertheless, 5-10% of the preserved ovary provides a high yield. Of course, having rejected a significant number of flowers and ovaries, the plant lost a large amount of plastic nutrients. But what could he do if we did not prune the tree in time, before the buds began to bloom, thus did not rid the tree of some of the fruit buds and did not give him the opportunity to save food. If this happened, the plant would thank us with a moderate harvest of large, high-quality fruits.
Therefore, those who are panicky afraid of pruning are deeply mistaken, seeing in each removed fruit bud a part of the removed crop, while completely ignoring the biology of the fruit tree. And it is such that if the tree is still overloaded with the harvest, then in any variety there is a decrease in the mass of the fruit, and the taste is often deteriorating. Simultaneously with the formation of the harvest of the current year, the tree lays fruit buds for the harvest of the next year. And it is not able, especially if the care leaves much to be desired (lack of nutrition, moisture), to lay them in the proper amount. Therefore, it will "please" us next year with a scanty harvest or, "having declared a strike," will rest. In this case, we are faced with a phenomenon called "fruiting frequency".
In fairness, it should be noted that a number of varieties, due to their biological characteristics, are prone to this undesirable phenomenon for us. But improper agricultural techniques, including underestimation of pruning, will naturally lead to the fact that there will be "a year - thick, another - empty".
× Notice board Kittens for sale Puppies for sale Horses for sale
But back to the branch. Let's see how the tree has felt over the past years. How to do it? Very simple. Every year, a so-called "continuation shoot" forms at the end of a branch. A shoot is a leafy annual growth. In a broader sense, the concept of "shoot" is also used in the case when he dropped the leaves. The branch extension shoot is formed from the apical growth bud of the previous year. This is, if you will, the "pulse" of the fruit tree. When assessing the condition of the plant, the gardener should pay attention, first of all, to the length of the branch extension. Until then, the tree will grow well, develop and bear fruit, until the length of the annually formed shoots of the continuation of the branches is at least 30-35 cm. In young plants, these shoots can reach lengths of up to 1 m or more. It's good.
But as the plant ages, the growth will decrease. Its decrease can be caused by many reasons: the manifestation of incompatibility between the rootstock and the scion, freezing of tissues, lack of nutrition, excess or shortage of water, etc. By reducing the growth, the tree thereby gives a distress signal. Sometimes it literally "screams", cries for help (growth is measured in millimeters), but we stubbornly do not hear. Have you heard now? And how long ago did it start?
Establishing this, let's see what the increase was in the previous years. The apical bud of the next shoot of the continuation, swelling in spring, sheds integumentary scales. After their fall, a circular trace remains - the outer growth ring. By counting the number of the latter on the branch, we thereby determine its age. And paying attention to the distance between adjacent rings, we will establish the length of the increments and, accordingly, the former state of health of the plant.
If there is a clear tendency towards a gradual decrease in growth, and the length of the continuation shoots in recent years has become lower than the permissible, then this spring we will certainly carry out a rejuvenating pruning based on the phenomenon of regeneration. Its essence is that a plant, having lost part of its wood as a result of shortening a branch, activates growth processes and restores what was lost, forming powerful shoots. As a rule, lateral (axillary) shoot buds do not germinate in the year of its formation. They bloom next spring. Moreover, some varieties germinate most of the buds, while others - less. More or less buds located in the lower part of the shoot remain dormant. Depending on how many buds from their total number have awakened, varieties with a low, medium and high degree of bud awakening are conventionally distinguished,considering this indicator when choosing a crown formation system, carrying out its pruning.
Germinating, the buds form shoots of different lengths. These can be short overgrown shoots, the so-called. fruit wood (ringlets, spears, spurs, bouquet twigs, etc.) or growth-type shoots (more than 20 cm long). The ability of a plant to naturally develop growth shoots is called shoot-forming ability. Every gardener can easily determine these indicators by paying attention to a two-year piece of a strong branch. The ratio between the number of growth shoots formed and the number of awakened buds will make it possible to establish the degree of the tree's shoot-forming ability: high, medium or low. It should be borne in mind that with age, the degree of bud awakening and the shoot-forming ability of the variety can change significantly. They also contain a hint whether it is worth shortening the strong growth of the branch when pruning or not, and if so,then to what extent.