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Wisconsin State Horticultural Society / Annual report of the Wisconsin State Horticultural Society for the year ending July 1, 1921
Vol. LI (1921)

Roberts, R. H.
Off-year apple bearing,   pp. 72-78 PDF (1.8 MB)

Page 78

We had better take up the question of pruning now. Pruning
has more possibilities in producing regularly, perhaps, than any
other single cultural factor. In general old orchards have been
consistently underpruned. In doing pruning work, if you have
crowding or crossing branches remedy the trouble but do your
prunsing by small cuts. The result is that you get a greater
vegetative growth out of the spurs close to which the cut is made.
The removing of a large branch has very little effect upon the
old spurs about the remainder of the tree. The cuts must be
close to the old spurs in order to rejuvenate them. Take a pole
pruner; do not take an axe or hand saw. One reason much
pruning work is done poorly is because you do not have the right
tools to do it with. Go out into the old orchard with a pole
pruner. Spend 25 minutes the first year on each tree; after that
ten or fifteen minutes every year will keep the tree in condition.
Pruning with small cuts gives a greater vegetative growth of old
spurs, leaves an evenly distributed fruiting surface and generally
benefits fruit production.
Q. Any preference as to when you do that?
PROF. ROBERTS: Regular dormant pruning, but do the pruning
by small cuts and do it regularly.
MR. SMITH: Is it not necessary where an orchard has been
neglected, an old orchard, to cut off pretty large limbs, two or
three inches in diameter?
PROF. ROBERTS: I should say as a general rule, absolutely
not. And the reason I say that is this: The thinning out that
trees need, unless it is dead limbs you are taking off, can be done
with a small cut in practically all varieties, -and when you take
out one of those three or four inch limbs, what you have done is
to make a great big hole in one corner of the top, and you have
left the rest of the top just as thick and in just as undesirable
condition as when you started in. Many of the trees in the state,
old trees, need heading back from the top downwards where they
are two or three inches thick, but to remove large limbs about
the bottom of the tree is practically always unnecessary under
our situations here in the state.
What I want to emphasize this afternoon is this,-your trees
seem to respond to the possibilities that you give them. Blossom
bud formation and fruitfulness, we are coming to believe, is a
pretty constant matter. Your orchards vary because you do
different things to them, and they are unproductive because you
have not given them a chance to be productive. We have some
measures to judge what the tree has done, as spur length and
terminal length. We can also tell what the spurs have done from
year to year. There is reason to believe if we get into the habit
of looking at the trees that we can be pretty sure what we should
do in a cultural way.
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