March 26, 2012
Lending Support to Apple Trees
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you know that on my farm, there are some rather old apple trees, which I simply love. Two, in particular, are in clear view from the terrace of my house, and I have photographed these craggy specimens many, many times. I like to think that Mrs. Sharp, who owned the farm before I did, enjoyed the crisp juicy apples that these trees bear as much as I do. I asked my arborist, Ralph Robbins from SavATree, if he could determine the age of the trees. Based on their size and how long Mrs. Sharp lived there, he guessed that they’re about sixty-years old, which is quite old for a fruit tree! A couple of weeks ago, the trees underwent their winter pruning and it was discovered that a couple of large limbs had some pretty bad breaks. Rather than cutting them off, the limbs were propped up with supports and we will hope for the best.
1 This stand of craggy apple trees is original to the property. The trees look nice and neat, following a good winter pruning. However, after pruning, it was discovered a couple of trees had some badly cracked limbs, which would need to be propped up.
2 These cracks occurred during last October's surprise snow storm, which came when so many trees still had most of their leaves, including these apples.
3 So many trees were broken or toppled because of the heaviness of the snow.
4 Arborists from SavATree http://www.savatree.com/ did a great job pruning. It's important to prune during winter, while the tree is dormant. Winter pruning invigorates the tree, causing it to grow more during the following season.
5 When pruning, it's important to know what and how to cut. You want an equal balance of side shoots produced this year and side shoots produced last year. This will provide a crop of apples in the current year and ample shoots for next year's crop. Upward and downward whips are removed.
6 Pruners must be very, very sharp to get good, clean cuts, which will scar over nicely.
7 To prop up the damaged apple trees, Ryan and Wilmer drove into the back woods, looking for just the right tree limbs to use as supports.
8 Here is Ryan carrying a support from the Kawasaki Mule to the stand of apple trees.
9 He chose these supports because of their strong 'V' notch.
10 Here, Wilmer surveys the crack to determine the best place to position the support.
11 Putting the support into position, he determines how much will have to come off the bottom.
12 Using a chainsaw to remove the excess
13 Because this is a major crack, Wilmer asked Ryan what he thought about where best to position the support so that it would close up the crack for the most effectiveness.
14 Ryan made a slight adjustment.
15 To help keep the support propped, Ryan brought some flat stones to use as a base.
16 Wilmer easily dug a shallow hole in the loamy soil beneath the tree.
17 A flat stone was placed in the hole and buried.
18 The support was then positioned over the base stone.
19 The stone will also prevent the limb from sinking into that loamy soil.
20 Carefully propping up the broken limb
21 Checking the base again
22 Shoulder press, Ryan!
23 New hope for this big old limb
24 This tree received two supports that day. Upright supports, like these, made from tree branches blend right in and actually look like trees, themselves.