How to form a crown in an apple tree
A properly formed fruit tree looks not only beautiful and neat, but also gives larger fruits. Therefore, formation work is important for apple trees. We learn when and how the formation of the crown of apple trees should be carried out, what forms can be given to them, what should be avoided.
Why do I need to form a crown?
Apple trees that did not form, of course, will produce a crop, but it will be full-fledged only in the first years. Then, due to the thickening of the crown, there will be a fading of the fruits and a drop in yield. The palatability of apples, however, also leaves much to be desired. Such a tree will be weaker and susceptible to disease, pest invasion. Winter hardiness may decrease. Caring for a neglected apple tree and harvesting from it will be difficult, since it can reach a height of up to 8 m.
Did you know? Nutritionists recommend eating fruits and berries, as well as products of their processing, up to 90-100 kg per person / year. In Russia, this indicator, on average, is 53 kg per person / year.
Correct and timely crown formation will allow you to achieve the following results:
- will provide better sunlight;
- evenly distribute the nutrition of all branches and the fruits forming on them;
- make the tree more resistant to adverse conditions;
- make the spread of diseases and pests difficult;
- improve the appearance and taste of apples;
- prolong the fruiting time of the apple tree;
- save time and effort in caring for the tree and picking fruit.
What is the best time to trim?
The apple tree should be cut to form a crown in the spring before the sap and bud swelling begin. Otherwise, the slices will not tighten well. Such work is carried out in dry weather, with temperatures slightly above 0 ° C. Usually, this time is from late February to early April (depending on the region). Before pruning, you should familiarize yourself with the weather forecast, since the return of frost will prevent the tree from tightening the cuts.
Only a planted seedling is cut immediately in the spring. If an autumn planting was made, then the tree begins to form in the spring. If you missed forming work in the spring, then for temperate and southern regions pruning is permissible in the fall, after leaf fall, but no later than 2-3 weeks before frosts.
Places to cut need to have time to tighten. In areas with a warm climate, where there are no strong and prolonged frosts, pruning is carried out in the autumn. In the northern regions and in areas with sudden cold snap, pruning is better to postpone until spring.
The main formation schemes
The density of plantings, structural features of the tree and its age affect the way an apple tree should be formed. There are different patterns of formation and, depending on the above conditions, you can focus on one of the options below. Such manipulations are carried out with young trees.
Important! If we are talking about an old running apple tree, then these schemes are not suitable. For her, an annual anti-aging pruning is done with the removal of dried, diseased and growing inward branches. In subsequent seasons, the old branches are cut off over the young branches and the top.
This scheme is simple and is used most often. For such a formation, the distance between the trees should be 3-4 m.The method of tiered rarefied formation.
The formation of a tier-discharged crown is as follows:
- In the first year, the seedling is measured for the height of the stem 0.5 m. At a height of 0.3 m, from the marked place, leave 3 main shoots. Between them there should be a distance of 15 cm. They should be directed in different directions, the angle between them should be approximately 120-130 °. This is the basis for the lower tier. Branches recommend trimming at the same level.
- In the next season, the tree again gives growth. Two more multidirectional branches leave, growing about 0.6 m above the lower tier. The distance between them is maintained at 15 cm and is also cut to the same length. The competing shoots are cut. The conductor from the upper branch should be no higher than 20 cm.
- For tall trees, with sparse plantings, they can form up to 7 skeletal branches. And even 1-2 years after such formation, when the apple tree has grown, the conductor is cut so that the fruit tree does not grow above 2.5-3 m.
- Cupped. This form is good for apple trees with weak growth power. It is characterized by the absence of a central conductor. In the first year, only 3-4 multidirectional skeletal branches leave. The growth point above the upper branch is cut off. The remaining branches are cut to 45 cm.
This formation is ideal for plants growing near fences and walls. It saves space and looks very interesting and decorative. The main task is to form in tiers all the branches in one plane parallel to the fence.
Did you know? The main leaders in growing and exporting apples are China and the United States, with the Chinese leading by a very wide margin. According to statistics, in 2013, an apple crop of 39.7 million tons was harvested in China, and 4.7 million tons in the USA.
The phased formation is as follows:
- In the first year, when planting a young plant, they put a trellis directed along the seedling and parallel to the fence. Two upper shoots are left on the seedling, directed in different directions, but located approximately in the same plane with the trellis. Growing shoots are tied to a support, forming a right angle. First, they are fixed at an angle of 45 °, and in subsequent periods they bend and tie up lower, trying to achieve an angle of 90 °.
- In the second and subsequent years leave, after 0.7–0.8 m from the lower tier, the next pair of branches directed in opposite directions, growing in the desired plane. Each year, the conductor and skeletal branches are trimmed to 1/2 (or one third) of the annual growth.
- The height of the tree is adjusted by trimming the conductorcutting it above the upper lateral branch, tied horizontally to the trellis of the lattice structure.
Weak and dwarf varieties of apple trees form in the form of a spindle. The result is a fruit tree with a conical crown, the branches of which are located horizontally.
The formation of a spindle-shaped crown occurs in this way:
- In the first year 3-4 branches of differently directed branches are selected from a young tree at a height of 0.6 m for laying the skeletal branches of the lower tier. They should be cut half "to the kidney", directed outward. The conductor must have 3 kidneys above the last branch of the tier, and the extra ones are cut off. When the left shoots grow up, they are tied up at the end of summer, gradually forming a horizontal orientation.
- In the second year 1/3 of the growth of the conductor is cut off, and the main branches of the tier are shortened by ¼ to the kidney, facing down. The pulling ropes are removed. Leave the branches of a new tier, and again at the end of summer provide pulling for the branches of a new tier. Lateral growths and shoots growing vertically on branches are removed.
- In subsequent years the procedure is repeated. When cutting, it is necessary to ensure that the branches of the new tier are 15 cm shorter than the lower. Their length should not be more than 1.5 m. When the apple tree begins to bear fruit, the branches will stop bending.
Such a formation usually takes 5-6 years.The height is determined by cutting the central conductor at the skeletal branch of the upper tier. Usually - it is not more than 3.5 m.Spindle-shaped formation method.
This form is suitable for dwarf trees and is well justified in harsh winters, when you need to quickly restore the crown. In order to grow the creeping form, the apple seedling is initially planted at a slope of 40–45 ° to the south. In July, the plant is bent and pinned to the ground with wooden hooks, and in the spring - removed. The distance between the trunk of the seedling and the soil surface should be about 5-6 cm.
Important! Vaccination when planting a creeping specimen should look down, otherwise the plant can be broken during subsequent formation.
It must be ensured that there are no excesses. Lateral branches also fix to the ground, spreading them to the sides, like a fan. All branches that grow down, cut, and growing up - shorten. Only young shoots are attached to the ground, and the old ones must creep on their own. The formation of the creeping form usually takes 5-6 years. The grown tree is above the surface of the earth no higher than 30 cm.Creeping apple tree formation.
In the form of a bush, apple trees can be formed on dwarf rootstocks. Such a tree will begin to bear fruit earlier, and will give good harvests in the first years of life. The formation of a bush-shaped form consists in the fact that a sapling with a height of only 0.4 m is left at the seedling. When pruning, 6-8 pieces of branches of the same order are kept. For this, a 1-year-old tree is shortened to 0.6 m, and then multidirectional shoots are left, the distance between which is 15 cm. The bush-shaped crown is small and forms from 3 to 5 years.
This form is the basis for the formation of other outlines of crowns. The whorled-tiered form is considered the most natural and it combines well tiering with cyclicity. The lowest fragment is formed at the initial stage of growth from 4–5 branches located at an equal interval from each other. The second and third (not in all cases) are made of 3-4 branches. A gap of at least 1 m is left between the tiers. As for the conductor, it is required only in the first years, and then it is cut off.
Did you know? Among the ancient Slavs, an apple was a symbol of fertility, health, love. The fruits and branches of the apple tree were an important attribute of weddings. Apple tree branches decorated the bride’s wreath and table decoration.
In the future, you can trim the shape of the crown by cropping. If the conductor is left, this will provoke the “pulling” of the apple tree, cause shading of the lower branches, make it difficult to trim and care for the apple tree, reduce frost resistance, expose the lower branches. All this can provoke the appearance of deep cracks in the crust and the appearance of the so-called “dead belts”.
The most common cropping errors
Those who believe that pruning is not worth the mistake are made, and the trees themselves, in the process of growth, will form the proper arrangement of the branches. This approach leads to the accumulation of dry and diseased branches, stretching of the crown, etc. Fruiting becomes periodic, and not constant. Trimming should be done regularly, and not be limited to one procedure.
It is important not to miss the time for the formation of the crown of apple trees. At the initial stage of growth, when the branches of a young tree are still flexible and quite thin, the excess branches are easily removed, it is easier to bend them at the right angle and in the required direction. The older the tree, the more difficult this process is. When using ropes, braces and other devices for straightening branches, giving them the desired direction and angle, constantly monitor the process.Consider the main ways to change the slope of the branches: 1 - wire staples; 2 - the initial position of the branches (dotted line); 3 - spacer; 4 - garter branches: a - to the trunk; b - to the stakes; in - to the lower branches; g, d - to the guide rails; 5 - garter of strongly deflected shoots. It is important to timely weaken the ropes and remove them on time. Otherwise, unpleasant consequences can occur - ropes or other fixators grow into the wood. Such a phenomenon can lead to the death of a skeletal branch, and sometimes even the whole tree. You can not ignore the timing of pruning apple plantings.If pruning is carried out after opening the kidneys, when the process of sap flow begins, then in the places of cuts there will be an active release of fluid.
Important! It is forbidden to process paints and varnishes, which include volatile solvents, as well as use clay, manure.
Such wounds cannot be covered with garden var. But the juice will attract insects, which are carriers of all kinds of diseases. Too early pruning and the return of frost will cause freezing, dry out the places of cuts. Another mistake is to use tools that are not suitable for this purpose for processing a slice. For putty use special tools.The most popular putty is garden varnish. You can use oil paint for this purpose. Do not leave hemp when pruning branches and processes. Slices are made on the ring. In a section of a correctly made cut, the tissue fibers of the tree form an “annular influx” that tries to tighten the cut. If you leave hemp, it will cause even more thickening of the crown. It is a mistake to assume that apple trees should be cut only in spring. Be sure to carry out sanitary pruning in the fall - remove dry and diseased branches.
Tips from experienced gardeners
It is possible to carry out the correct formation of the crown of apple trees in a few years. The main thing is that in the first years after planting a seedling, get a good growth of branches. The choice of the crown formation method depends on their quality and length. Therefore, seedlings should arrange for proper care.
To do this, you need to choose the right site for planting, as well as water and fertilize them, loosen the soil around and remove weed grass. When bookmarking skeletal branches, it often becomes a pity to remove extra processes. If they do not interfere with the formation of the crown, then they can be placed in a horizontal position.
Did you know? Apples are a fairly low-calorie product (40–70 kcal). Therefore, these fruits are part of many diets. To fight extra pounds, there is even a special apple diet.
But the branches, which are taken as the main ones, should be cut to 1/3 of all lengths, and also, if necessary, make the angle of contact with the crown larger. When shortening the conductor, it is necessary, accordingly, to cut all the main branches, while maintaining the principle of subordination, that is, to shorten proportionally. Skeletal branches should be approximately equal in development and thickness.The illustration shows the main methods of crown formation: 1 - bending of a strong branch, not necessary for the formation of the crown frame; 2 - an increase in the angle of departure and pruning of the branch used as the main one; 3 - weak shortening for subordination to the conductor (P); 4 - strong shortening to turn the branch into a growing one; 5 - pulling the skeletal branches to enhance growth; 6 - cutting competitor conductor; 7 - cutting a hanging branch that interferes with soil cultivation In one tier, do not leave more than three main branches with 90 ° divergence angles. Certain shoots should be turned into branches, which will then be overgrown with wood. This process can be carried out in different ways - by pinching, twisting, bending or cutting 2/3 of the length of the branch. Competitive shoots from the second lateral kidney of last year’s growth often appear on the main conductor. Such processes grow rapidly, inhibiting the growth of the main conductor.
For most forms of the crown, a strong trunk is needed, so all unnecessary processes should be cut off. If you leave them, then over time they will begin to break and can, thereby, cause serious harm to the tree. It is important to measure the location of the branches. If the shoots grow at the most acute angle, they must be bent to the side with the help of special brackets, braces, braces or by fixing to the slats. This will help not only to change the position of the branch, but also to straighten its curvature.Saggy branches are tied to the trunk of an apple tree.
The correct formation of the apple tree will help save space on the site and get a good harvest of quality apples. There are types of pruning that allow the tree to better survive the harsh winters. When choosing a method of forming a crown, one should take into account the landing site and the characteristics of the variety. The formation begins to be done at an early age of the seedling and continues the process over the next years.