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20 Jul 2012

Training your fruit trees

Want to train your free-standing trees? Here's an idea.
Category: General
Posted by: christina

In small backyards, we often recommend that people grow their fruit trees in a two dimensional  shape, against a southern boundary fence, using a trellis framework. Known as espaliering, this takes up minimal room, and also encourages early and prolific fruiting by forcing the trees branches to grow more horizontally than vertically. This works best with trees that are grafted onto dwarfing rootstock, since their natural vigor is controlled, and you wont be fighting masses of vegetative growth each spring.

However, sometimes you want to train free standing trees to a particular shape, with no handy fence or wire trellis system. So what can you do?

A very simple method is to tie a weight to the end of your selected branches. The length of string can be adjusted over time, and once the new position of the branch has been set (after approx 6 months or so), you can remove the ties and weights.

This technique works best with apples and pears which can stand the manipulation. Not so successful with cherries or apricots which can have brittle branch notches and are prone to splitting.

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