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Help with deciding how to prune/train my trees

11 years ago

So far I've done little in the way of pruning or training my trees. Now I must decide exactly what I'm going to do. My PF-24C has suddenly bent itself over and it's touching the ground. Several other peaches have done this also. They are so heavily laden they can't support their own weight.

My little orchard is planted in rows 7' apart and the trees are 5' apart in the rows. I had my trees in pots for two years while the back yard was cleared of shade and pine trees, then we had to move quickly to plant before the roots froze. It was a simple mathematical decision.

I have not pruned the lower branches because I didn't want the trees to grow too tall. I am thinking that it might work to train the trees as if they were on a fence, espalier-style. At this point all the apples, pears, cherries and plums are fine, but the peaches are growing much more quickly and I need to make a decision. Should I try to train them to be bushy and round or tall and spread out along a cordon?

Personally I prefer the more natural look of a low bush, but will production and fruit quality be better if the branches are along cordons for the purpose of getting more sun?

I really should have made a decision a couple of years ago but I just could not make up my mind.

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