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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I planted some Kieffer and Bartlett pears from Family Farm & Home,
real early last year. Kept them watered all summer, they looked real
happy and put on quite a bit of growth. The central leaders range
from 6 to 8-feet high and I guess the total width of the tree branches
are about 3-foot diameter, now.

I have no previous experience with fruit trees but did alot of research
about pruning. In late winter (a few months ago) I pruned branches
that were obviously growing in a bad direction but I was shy about
knocking the young trees back too much, thinking that they still need
alot of leaves to wake up and get going in Spring.

Last night, I checked on the trees for the first time this Spring. They
look very healthy to me but I have a couple of questions that I hope
you guys can help me with..........

a)
There are alot of blossom buds that have not yet opened. Should
I cut all of these off so the trees dont waste energy on fruit this year?
Hand Plant Flower Leaf Branch



b)
Two of the trees have central leaders that are really going up fast
and look like a whip antenna, should I whack these off (this coming
winter, while dormant) so the tree has more of a globe shape?
Cloud Sky Atmosphere Plant Natural landscape
Hand Plant Flower Leaf Branch
Cloud Sky Atmosphere Plant Natural landscape


Thanks for any advice.

-NC
 

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I have never grown a pear tree Northcountry but I have grown "a lot" of apple trees over the past 27 years and I am guessing training/pruning is pretty much the same.

1) Yes - you want to remove any fruit/blossoms your young trees try to grow the first 2-3 years so the nutrients go towards growing and strengthening the tree rather than producing fruit. You will get fruit soon enough if you train them properly.

2) I can't really tell from the photos how high up those lower branches are but on my apple trees I start removing the lower branches beginning on the same day I plant the tree. I don't want any branches any closer than 4-5 feet above ground level....somewhat less on cherry trees. I give the newly planted trees a real good hair cut the day they are planted and will remove more branches later that same summer, and then more again when they go dormant. Within 2-3 years (sometimes sooner) my trees are going to look pretty much like I want them to look when they are mature. A central leader with about 5 main scaffold branches and nothing less than 4-5 feet above ground level.

3) You don't want that central leader reaching for the moon. It is a good idea to head it back when you plant the tree and continue to keep it at a moderate height each year as it grows. This applies to the main scaffold branches as well. You won't want them growing so wide that a heavy load of fruit will stress or break them. Some say it is best to remove up to 30% of new growth each year on both the leader and the scaffolds.

4) Strong Crotch Angles - Cut some lath and notch the ends so that you can use them as spreaders to train your trees to the proper crotch angles - 45-60 degrees. If you insert these on the day you plant the tree, they can usually be removed within a year or two at the most. You don't want your scaffolds to break under heavy loads of fruit.

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Did I mention that I give new trees a pretty good hair cut when I plant them?

Plant Tree Natural landscape Branch Land lot


These trees were planted maybe 3 weeks or so before this photo was taken. Note - most of the bottom branches have been removed. The rest of those bottom branches (below the scaffolds with the spreaders) will be gone by this time next year. My philosophy is that there is no need to feed unwanted branches with nutrients that could be better utilized by feeding the parts of the tree you do intend to keep. Just don't remove more than about 25% of the tree at any one time.

Also note in the photo below that I build up some topsoil around the tree to create a "bowl" so I can give them a full 5 gallons of water which I do a few times (especially the first year). Apple trees don't like "wet feet" but the first year at least or during periods of drought, it doesn't hurt to give them a good drink - especially if you are an absentee landowner.

Plant Tire Wheel Vehicle Car


This is the price you will eventually pay for not developing strong crotch angles or for allowing your scaffolds to grow too long....or allowing too much fruit to grow without thinning it. You can do about 2/3 of the required pruning when the trees are dormant and another 1/3 during mid-late summer to train them as quickly as possible.

Plant Wood Botany Branch Trunk


Maybe not imperative when you only plant a couple of trees, but eventually you will want to remember what cultivar you planted where? You can get a box of about 100 of the Impresso Tags that you can just write on with a ball point pen to impress the name of the tree and the date you planted it which is very helpful in the future.

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Hope this helps.
 

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I planted these 5 Red Wealthy trees in May of 2017. I took the photo in September of 2020 - a little over 3 years after planting them. I know I shouldn't have allowed all this fruit to grow on such young trees - my bad. Anyway, this just shows what property trained trees can do in a short period of time when you start training them on the same day you plant them.

Plant Fruit Tree Flower Petal


Also note that I spray Glyphosate around the trees to keep grass and weeds away from the trees. Gly will not harm your trees if you happen to get some on the trunk of the tree and they say your trees will grow 30%-35% faster if you eliminate competing vegetation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for all of this info, Wild Thing!

There is a thick layer of clover and maple leaves inside my tree cages, I was wondering last night if I should leave it there as mulch or clean it out so any rain (which we never get much of) will make its way to the soil without being soaked up by the mulch, first. I guess I'll clean it out to bare soil like your trees, next trip out.

-NC
 

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I have about 10 Keiffers. The tree in the photo looks good to me. This coming winter I would continue to trim off the lower branches to the 4-5' height as mentioned. I keep a small diameter cage around my pears to prevent buck rub damage.
In about a month I would check to see how many pears have actually set on your trees. A 6-8' tree can support a few pears and you get to taste what will be an abundant fruit in a few years.
I would also edit the 3 foot(inch) diameter wording at the top.

L & O
 
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