Cherry Trees are not the easiest to keep to a reasonable size so that we do not need ladders to pick them. Using tall ladders means higher workers compensation rates. Cherries also want to reach for the sky and just keep on growing.
The more you prune a tree the bigger the imbalance between the root system below the ground and the trunk and branches above the ground. You cut more and the tree wants to grow more. We like some growth to produce more fruit buds but we also like the idea of the tree concentrating most of its energy on fruit. These trees are two years old and growing so strongly we have to do something to slow them down or we will monster trees before we even get any fruit. .We are trying a new technique this year to ‘gently’ persuade them to stay small and produce fruit. This was suggested to us by John Lagier from Lagier Ranches near Stockton.
Here’s how it works…
We drive into the ground a metal T post either side of the tree about 18” away from the trunk.
We massage the branches gently down the length so that we can bend them without breaking.
We tie them as near to horizontal as possible using irrigation drip line which will hold up under the summer sun and stretch as the branches grow.
With the branches horizontal the energy of the tree will not be concentrated on the leading buds of the four main branches. Our hope is that many fruit bearing spurs and buds will form along these branches.
It looks a little strange but it felt right as we were doing it. The trees were not fighting us, it was easy to do. These kind of senses are the ones I am more and more relying on every year. Check out the trees when you come to the Strawberry Days.
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