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Pruning new apple tree help (pic)

semaje
13 years ago

Just got this Dwarf Golden Delicious from Stark Bros and am very pleased with the condition it came. I have more trees coming from them also. But I have planted and am not sure about pruning. Ive read about "whipping" it and that kinda worries me, but ive read its supposed to help the plant adjust to transplanting and will grow out with stronger branches. Ive read alot about it, but I thought id throw this picture up so I can get advise based on my specific tree. Ive also read about central leaders. I just dont know. What technique do you favor?

I numbered the branches so you can talk about what to do easiar. And when the tree came it already had to cut spots. Ive pointed these out in the picture and would like to know why they were done. Also a few leaves have brown crispy blotches on them. This is literally just a few though. Should I be worried about this?

Heres the pic:

{{gwi:125404}}

Comments (33)

  • jellyman
    13 years ago

    Semaje:

    I seem to recall you are located somewhere in Pennsylvania, but you should include location information in every post. Zone info is helpful, but not enough.

    Let's get a few things cleared up. Apple trees, and most other stuff in zone 6, grow in the spring and summer and either die or go dormant in the fall and winter. This is fall, a little early yet, but I am already seeing dieback of leaves on my apple trees that have been planted for many years. This is completely normal.

    Your dwarf Golden Delicious must have arrive from Stark in a leafed-out condition. I was not aware that Stark would ship trees at this stage in the fall, a stage that I do not regard as ideal. Fruit trees are best dug and replanted when they are in fully dormant condition. If this was a bare root tree, I am a little surprised that any of the leaves have survived the transplant, but it would be completely normal for leaves to begin to turn brown and fall as we approach mid-October. The rest of them should soon follow after the first few frosty nights.

    Pruning your dwarf tree at this early stage would be exactly the wrong thing to do. Dwarf trees have very limited root systems, and you are trying to help that system become established. At this stage, top growth is feeding nutrients into the roots to help them grow. I probably wouldn't even prune dwarfs in the first growth season, which would be 2010. Let the poor thing become established first, and think about pruning a little, perhaps, in the 2nd season. You can, however, install a few branch spreaders next spring to help the tree establish its structure and control its vertical growth.

    Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

  • misterbaby
    13 years ago

    Hi, Semaje! You have a beautiful piece of land for your orchard. It's just beautiful!

    Stark Bros. sent you a fine looking tree, and it looks like Elmer pruned it before shipping. I'm pretty much in agreement with Mr. Yellman, except I'd get busy with the limb spreaders straight away. The sooner you do that, the less likely you are to damage a limb and the stronger that tree will be. Spreaders also encourage early fruiting. If you don't start shaping this little beauty now, it'll soon start looking like a Rose of Sharon bush.

    Best, Misterbaby

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  • semaje
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    that interesting don, Im new to this and appresciate the help. But I though this was a good time to plant becuase that way the roots could establish some before the summer heat. And I also thought you were supposed to prune right away. I guess i was wrong. But I will start spreading I guess. Im new to this also. are there any specifc branches you would suggest spreading? Thanks for the help, you too misterbaby

  • jellyman
    13 years ago

    Semaje:

    There is nothing wrong with planting in the fall, particularly apple trees. I am surprised only that you seem to have received such a large tree (dwarf!), and that it apparently arrived in a fully leafed out condition. It is certainly true that fall planted trees develop their root systems over the dormant season, and spring quickly to life when the weather begins to warm up.

    I agree with Misterbaby that it would be helpful to begin branch spreading as soon as possible; I just didn't want to overload your circuits. Spring spreading would also be O.K. Spread the branches that you will choose for your scaffold branches. I won't be able to tell you which branches to choose, or exactly how to do it, since I am not standing next to your tree. Some things you will have to figure out for yourself, by reading and by using your common sense.

    You can make nice branch spreaders with hardwood dowels, cutting them to the desired lengths, drilling them with a small bit at the ends, then installing finishing nails with the heads cut off. There are also other ways to spread branches, but this is my favorite. A nice spreading angle would be from 60 to around 80 degrees from the central leader. If the little branches don't want to bend easily don't force them; be patient with them and you will eventually succeed. But don't break them off.

    Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

  • alan haigh
    13 years ago

    It seems like Don and Semaje are talking about 2 different things- Don a bare-root and S. a container grown tree. The CGT is great to be planting in early fall in full leaf, as long as it is not late in hardening off.

    I wouldn't want mail-ordered container trees for fall planting if it comes from an area with a later season. However, I guess Starks has found that it works out OK to send the trees out at this time. They do guarantee their trees.

    If the tree is on true dwarfing rootstock like M9, I think pruning should be limited to oversized branches (branches more than half the diameter of the trunk at their point of attachment to the trunk). Worry about training when tree starts fruiting except for avoiding having branches starve out the leader.

  • jellyman
    13 years ago

    Harvestman:

    I think you are right that it is a container tree, which would explain the full leaf. Stark did not used to ship container trees, but I have not ordered from them for a long time, and I guess they do now. I would not personally plant a container tree in the fall, nor one so large, since I prefer smaller bare root nursery stock. But I understand this is open to debate, and Semaje's tree may do well. Nor would I plant a full dwarf tree unless I was prepared to give it external support throughout its life. One tree I have planted on M9 fell over and died in about year 5, and another runted out, so that ended my relationship with M9. Nearly all my apples are on M7, with a few on the old M106. They may be a little slower to fruit, but at least they can stand up by themselves.

    I do not disagree with your pruning rule of removing branches more than 1/2 the size of the trunk. That makes sense to me.

    Semaje: Please include info about how trees are received in future questions, as well as where you are located. I recall you are in PA, but that is just by good luck. The more info you can provide about your trees and how they are planted, the easier it is to offer advice.

    Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

  • calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9
    13 years ago

    The existing branches look well spaced on your healthy looking tree and I would install spreaders now while the branches are growing and are flexible. Once they are dormant they are more brittle and easier to break when bent. Although I find no objections to fall planting a container grown tree, considering the shipping of a tree your size, including the container and soil makes me wonder why anyone would wish to do it. Al

  • alan haigh
    13 years ago

    I agree with Don that full dwarfs are hard to grow if you are not very attentive. I think that M26 works pretty well for home orchards, however. They are a lot easier to prune than the next size up and the early fruiting is much appreciated. Only problem is they need staking- at least when young. Also voles love to girdle them. Oh yeah, and they can't handle drought well at all- it can stunt them.

    Anyway, I prefer a tree you can climb in.

  • semaje
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Hey thanks for the help everyone. And i will include more info next time Don, sorry about that... I plan to start spreading very soon. But is there ANYTHING else any one notices I should possible do? And can some explain to me this central leader technique? I know what it is, but I dont know how to, when to, or even if I need to do anything.

    This is to anyone who has ordered from Stark Bros....
    Ive ordered 5 trees from them, this is the only one that came... Is there a reason? Is this common? This one has been here for a week+ now. The other trees were a moonglow pear, bartlett pear, caroline belle peach, and honeycrisp apple tree. All dwarfs. And I do live in PA, 1 hour north of Philly Falls in full effect here and weve had a couple frosts.

    Thanks

  • myk1
    13 years ago

    If this one was potted and the others not that would be why this one came and the others didn't. Unpotted trees won't come until dormancy.

    But I don't have any experience with fall planting from them because even though their line is above me they say I'm too far north for fall planting.

  • marknmt
    13 years ago

    Semaje, you've gotten very good advice above.

    Don favors a vase over central leader, and for good reason. It works very well. But central leader pruning can work very well too. If that's what you choose to do it will work, but the same is true of vase pruning.

    Right now you don't have to make the choice, and you can let the tree go next year without doing serious pruning. That gives you the year to study different approaches.

    FWIW, central leader pruning is simply letting one main stalk form the backbone of the tree, and preventing any competition with it. Branches are allowed to spring out from it like spokes on a wheel, but their number and spacing is controlled with pruning. You might envision a spiral staircase with each branch forming a step.

    A vase cuts out the central leader but keeps a few of the steps. Each of those branches, still arranged like spokes on a wheel, is allowed to develop as much as any of the others.

    CL pruning is thought to be efficient of space, but vases automatically provide a healthy, open center, and to my eye are beautiful.

    My own Liberty apple is a muddled leader system, which I don't recommend ...

    :-)M

  • glenn_russell
    13 years ago

    Hi Semaje-
    The best way for you to answer whether or not this type of issue is common with starks is to look at their reputation on Daves garden watchdog. The easiest way to do this is to Google the name of the nursery, and the word "Scoop". So, "Scoop Stark Brothers". I'd say that their rating of 149 Positives to 32 negatives is OK, but not great like a company like Nourse, Cummins nursery, Adams County nursery, etc.
    -Glenn

  • semaje
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thanks for the wonderful advice and help everybody

  • myk1
    13 years ago

    "I'd say that their rating of 149 Positives to 32 negatives is OK, but not great like a company like Nourse, Cummins nursery, Adams County nursery, etc. "

    Until you read some of the negatives and see they're people who obviously have never mailordered plants or are simply insane.
    One negative is because the website is bad. One is a negative because 50% of the plants didn't grow and they wouldn't refund 100% of the price. One negative claims they won't honor a "lifetime guarantee" that they never had on trees that died 6 years after planting!
    There's a neutral that complains because Lowes and HD trees are 6' tall and the Stark trees were 3'-4' whips, like the box store trees are better because they're taller.
    Plus some of those are based on F&G days.

    Cummins only has 24 total responses with 1 negative.
    Adams County only has 16 total responses with 1 negative.
    That's not really enough to judge either.

    Nourse is pretty impressive with 80 responses all positive. Although they don't seem to have trees.

    None of those compare to Stark's 198 responses.

    Work in retail long enough and you'll discover the customer is not always right (about a week should be long enough).

  • misterbaby
    13 years ago

    Put me down with myk1 on the ratings issue. Stark goes after a broader market than the niche specialists and can be expected to have a wider range of evaluations. The fact is that they sell excelllent fruit trees, and they back up what they sell. Most of the nursery people are fine folks.

    The Stark website has a fine pruning tutorial that would be helpful to Semaje. Misterbaby.

  • glenn_russell
    13 years ago

    Myk1 & Misterbaby-
    So, you're saying that you think Starks is as good of a nursery as Nourse, Adam's, Cummins? From everything I'd seen here, I always thought they were a "OK/Good", but not "Great". I've ordered from the other 3, but not Starks yet. Though I do agree... some of those customers were/are crazy.
    -Glenn

  • misterbaby
    13 years ago

    Glenn, I'm saying that Stark Bros. is a dependable firm that offers excellent nursery stock. Also, they offer some screaming good deals at end of season. They do not, however, offer the highly personalized service and extensive choice that one would expect from, say, Cummins. On the other hand, Stark Bros. is always going to answer their phone and have their website up to date. They're hard to compare because they're somewhat different. Misterbaby.

  • homertherat
    13 years ago

    I ordered a blueberry (can't remember the variety) from Nourse, which died a week after it came. I ordered the same variety and 2 others, along with 50 bare root strawberry and 6 blackberry plants from Stark Bro's and all the Stark Bro's were in great condition when they arrived and all of them have survived and are thriving.

    I may have gotten a dud, but I'll keep using Stark Bro's. They have a large selection and they will replace or refund your money within a year if something dies on you.

    Myk1: That's so true about retail. I work in a grocery store and one customer refused to buy the cheapest milk brand because he was convinced that it was from China, where "who knows what they put in that milk". I laughed for a week.

  • myk1
    13 years ago

    Glenn,
    I've never ordered from the others so I can't say "as good as".

    As far as Starks goes I've been dealing with them from the start of my 20 years growing my own fruit. I've never had any complaint. Quality or variety has never been in question. Warranties were always honored without issue. Non-warranty customer service has also been handled fast and properly.
    I have no problem telling anyone to use Stark. I sent my niece there, gave her a gift certificate and she's requested I get her name for Christmas so I'll give her another Stark tree.

    The worst unpersonalized customer service I had was asking bloom periods for pollination outside of their recommendations with a tree that is too new for their chart. I quickly got an email giving me the pat recommended pollinizer answer out of the catalog. Then I quickly got another email actually answering my question before I had to write back to re-explain what I was asking.
    I suspect you'd get the right answer the first time at Adams or Cummins.

    Personally I think a lot of what you hear around here is because they were bought up by a conglomerate for a time, not because of bad service. In fact I've got it out of more than one of the people who bash Stark here that they have never used them.

  • glenn_russell
    13 years ago

    Ok myk1 & Misterbaby I won't hold their not-great rating against them then. We'll consider it due to their wider customer base perhaps. In my defense, I wasn't really bashing them, I was just saying their rating wasn't "great" like the companies I listed. Anyway, hopefully all this extra discussion has probably given Semaje the info he was looking for.

    homertherat - I've never used Nourse for anything but raspberries, so I can't answer for your blueberry. I too got some bareroot blueberries from another quality nursery last year, and they've really struggled. I may stick to local potted blueberries next time.

    -Glenn

  • alan haigh
    13 years ago

    As far as big saturation mailings kind of nurseries, Starks in easily the best I know of. They grow their own trees and also have an active commercial division that supplies commercial growers and nurseries alike.

    They have a great selection of new varieties and you most likely will get the variety you ordered, which is a refreshing difference from some of the others in the mass mailings class.

    Of course they are not the same as a mom and pop small business like Cummins (OK, no mom visible)- Nourse is really quite small as well. As a small business myself I like to buy from smaller companies when I can. It's great when you call and you get the owner.

  • brookw_gw
    13 years ago

    Semaje,

    One thing I would definitely do is get that tree protected from deer. All the pruning, spreading advice in the world won't do you any good if a randy little buck decides to turn that pretty tree into toothpicks. I have learned the hard way--three t-posts and a little woven wire could save you a lot of heartache. I can't see where it enters the ground, but I'd also get some mulch around the tree as well. Nice looking tree!!

    Good luck,

    Brook

  • semaje
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Aint that the truth brook. i have some metal cage around it now with a top, very durable i think. But this is just temporary, were putting up deer fence very soon around my little orchard row. Deer are a BIG problem around here... and it is mulched.

  • olpea
    13 years ago

    Myk,

    About 15 years ago I ordered from Starks and received reasonably good stock. I think that was when the original Stark bros. owned them. Then family problems caused them to sell to F&G. My question is, who owns them now?

    One of my complaints of Starks is that they rename varieties, which can be confusing.

    I agree with Hman they are probably one of the better saturation mail order nurseries.

  • rain2fall
    13 years ago

    I think it's easier for new home gardners to prune to a central leader because it looks more "tree-like." Unless you have a particular reason for pruning to a vase-shape, I'd go with the central leader system. BTW, I love the picture and the labels. Makes it so easy to see what you're talking about.

    It looks like branch #2 is competing with the central leader. There can be only one leader! Imaging what it would be like if we had both Obama and McCain in a co-presidency. No good. So branch #2 definitely needs to take a subordinate position. Bend branch #2, gently, to as horizontal a position as possible without straining it. Then do the same with branch #1. It's a peon, and needs to stay below branch #2.

    Enjoy your apple tree!

    {{gwi:125405}}

    Rain2Fall

  • rain2fall
    13 years ago

    I note from the photo that you apple tree is in shade, yet it doesn't look to be either early morning or late afternoon. Do you have it in a place where it will get enough sun?

    Cute dog, BTW.

  • myk1
    13 years ago

    "About 15 years ago I ordered from Starks and received reasonably good stock. I think that was when the original Stark bros. owned them. Then family problems caused them to sell to F&G. My question is, who owns them now?"

    Cameron Brown, who had ties with the Stark family and Tim Abair.

    Isn't Starkrimson cherry the only one in that renaming category? Has it actually been proven that you get exactly the same as Lapins from someone else?
    From what I'm finding is Starkrimson is a Zaiger strain of whatever it is and Starks has exclusive rights to it. So chalk that one up to urban legend.

    I'm skeptical about what I read in catalogs but I'm also skeptical about what I read on the internet especially on forums.

    I don't even like adding "Stark" to a variety and claiming it as an exclusive, and when you figure all the varieties they've held patents to (like my spur-type Cortland) or exclusive rights from Burbank it's really unnecessary.
    If they are exclusive sports/strains then they have every right, and I do think they seek out the sports/strains that taste or grow good.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Stark bankruptcy buyout

  • alan haigh
    13 years ago

    There are larger busniess models and smaller ones. Larger models most often run their sales with that PT Barnum attitude of kindof treatng their customers like suckers- selling illusion and exageration instead of just emphasizing selling a quality product at a fair price. Stark is into that slick marketing technique that turns a lot of us off but has generally proven to be succesful in mass-marketing.

    Of course this isn't just based on the size of a company and I think you guys know what I'm talking about. All things being equal, I like to run with the smaller comapnies when I can, but if volume sales leads to cheaper prices for me, I may not care how a company sells their product- I'm likely to go for better price and better selection.

    However, if I lived in Philly, I wouldn't buy from Starks because there is similar selection and price from a more local nursery- Adams County Nursery. Adams County doesn't do that slick marketing to the homeowner-gardener crowd but they do sell individual trees and their selection is generally more tailored to mid-Eastern conditions.

    The first orchard I ever planted in the northeast was from trees from Starks. I ended up cutting down every tree I ordered from them because the varieties didn't do well here. Of course it is much easier to match varieties to regions now with all the info available but when you look at the pictures in a Stark Brothers catalogue and read the descriptions, it's pretty easy to pick the wrong trees.

  • galagala
    13 years ago

    I just finished reading the entire pruning arti11.cle and I have a few questions about spreading.Jellyman, I like your idea of using dowels and nails for spreading the limbs, however does the sharp nail digging into the tree have any adverse effect on the tree?? I also got to thinking about the system I used to spread the limbs on my trees. I used cedar shims with a V cut into each end. Now I wonder, "CEDAR SHIMS"- Can the trees pick up CAR disease from the shakes?? Also, I think I will make spreaders in the future from a 1"X1" and a nail (much cheaper when you need mucho spreasers) Dowel are a little salty. Thanks for all the IMFO!!

  • alan haigh
    13 years ago

    Nails won't injure the tree in any meaningfull way- especially for apples and pears. A V can cause minor damage as well with a bit of girdling. Nails hold better.

    Just remove the spreaders after first flush spring growth so nails don't become excessively inbedded. Use galvanized nails and quality wood and the spreaders can last for years.

  • olpea
    13 years ago

    Myk wrote:
    "I don't even like adding "Stark" to a variety and claiming it as an exclusive"

    I don't like that either. But Starks has never stopped there. They've a long history of completely renaming. They renamed the original Red and Golden delicious apples (that is, renamed them to, Red and Golden Delicious) as well as some of Burbank's stuff. I pulled up their Website, and on the first page, it looks like they've renamed Paul Friday's 5B cultivar - 4th of July peach.

    I bought a couple trees from Gurneys/Henry Fields this Spring (I'm not in the habit of buying from Gurneys, but occasionally they get exclusive marketing rights to some new cultivars I'm interested in) and I noticed the inspection certificate came from Louisiana MO (i.e. Stark Bros). I was satisfied with the stock.

  • semaje
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    rain2fall,

    thanks for the picture but I think you may be confusing something. The number 2 branch is the central leader, i think. the long stick behind it is a piece of bamboo guiding the tree, you may be confusing that for the central leader. And yeah sunlight is a bit iffy where i planted it. But its like mid day there at the time I took took the picture. It will only be in shade for like 2-3 hrs a day. The tree is sided by alot of other trees, but during the time of year when the tree actually is leafed out to absorb sunlight, the sun is moving in a perfect line right over it. The only tree that casts the shade on it is a big zelkova. Thats the shade you can see in the picture. It may sound like a not so good place to plant,yeah, but its the only space i had available, and I think it will do alright sunlight wise.

  • rain2fall
    13 years ago

    OOps. My poor eyes thought your stake was a leader. Glad you corrected me. Gladdere that I don't make that mistake when I'm outside pruning. Have fun with your apple!

    Rain2Fall