when to prune plum trees in washington state

In fact, Washington State University Extension recommends that plums, along with peaches and apricots, might be a good substitute for apples or cherries, because plums “are not regularly attacked by troublesome insect pests, so they may not require multiple pesticide applications during the growing season.”, As Extension educators have noted, “Plum trees are usually vigorous and productive, less prone to disease and nutrition problems than other stone fruit kinds, and can be used not only for fresh eating but also for canning, drying, fruit leathers, and other culinary uses.”. Follow up by thinning out water sprouts, and maintain the tree’s new shape with regular fine-tuning of the branches that develop. Thinning is removing an entire shoot, branch, or limb, back to the point where it originated. The science of pruning a tree means being aware of how light affects its growth, and how its structure develops over time. Fruit trees need pruning for two primary purposes: to establish the basic structure, and to provide light channels throughout the tree so that all the fruit can mature well. The largest and most upright should be removed, leaving the smaller ones well spaced, much as you would thin a row of corn. Prune mature trees more heavily, especially if they’ve shown little growth, when all danger from fall or early winter freeze has passed, but before full bloom in … Try to maintain about 60% of the tree’s total volume in the lower scaffold area. Although apples, pears, and cherries dominate the commercial tree fruit of Washington, the state produces the second-most plums in the nation. Watch for excessive running sap. The Open Center or Vase type pruning is well adapted to the stone fruits that have a spreading habit. Anthocyanins in the reddish-blue skin of some plum varieties may protect against cancer by picking up free radicals. The ideal profile is something like a simplified Christmas tree – a triangular shape wide at the bottom and narrowing at the top. A well pruned tree is easier to maintain and to harvest, and adds esthetic value to the home garden as well, but the primary reason for pruning is to ensure good access to sunlight. Either bypass or anvil-type pruners can be used, but a bypass-type is better for close pruning such as is necessary on young trees. When heading is necessary, such as to shorten and stiffen up a long bare branch, make the heading cut into older wood, as this results in less regrowth. Planting balled and burlapped and Disturb those roots – from Washington State University Plant with flare – planting depth is critical A Practitioner’s Guide to Stem Girdling Roots of Trees – prevent stem girdling when planting a tree. A well pruned tree is easier to maintain and to harvest, and adds esthetic value to the home garden as well, but the primary reason for pruning is to ensure good access to sunlight. The art lies in pruning a tree so that the balance of growth and productivity is esthetically pleasing to you. That said, you don't have to prune them. Good to see foliage masses for thinning and layering. Peach, nectarine, apricot, cherry and plum are usually pruned as open center trees. Pruning after it tends to slow growth. This provides good access to light throughout the tree, and makes for easy care and picking. Varieties are listed in approximate ripening order. In our area, as leftovers from earlier orchard methods, we also see many old trees pruned in the Umbrella method. Fruit bearing branches grow outward and downward from these main limbs, and clumps of water sprouts shoot upward. An excellent commercial variety, this prune plum ripens 10 days to two weeks ahead of regular Italian. Pruning the young plum tree is easy. Most pruning can be handled with 3 tools: a hand pruner, a long-handled lopping shears, and a pruning saw. It’s true, because that’s where the most light is available. Save to My scrapbook Don’t head these water sprouts, as it only stimulates more shoot growth and reduces fruiting. Any branches that compete with the leader in vigor, or that would crowd the chosen scaffold branches, should be thinned out. aphids, scale, mites. At this point you will need loppers or pruning saws, not shears. & A. Umbrella trees are usually older trees (some up to nearly 100 years old), originally planted in yards and homesteads when the modern size-controlling rootstocks were not yet available. It’s true, because that’s where the most light is available. lime: dormant. It’s simple – we follow the four Ps: Planting, Pruning, Pollination, and Picking. Developing a strong foundation is essential to the life of any fruit tree. To be fair, California commands that sector, with 97 percent of the plum market. On the other side of Asia, the Japanese plum, Prunus salicina, was first domesticated in China thousands of years ago. Prune two-year-old trees in fall or winter. Spray trees at … Consult a local county extension office for varieties adapted to Washington's cloudy weather. Whether you live in Lynden or Lind, if you don’t have a nearby plum tree, chances are you can find one. The species is also known as Osmaronia cerasiformis or […] The Washington Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee recommends that you prune very lightly for the first five years. When plum trees are not carefully pruned, they can easily become heavy and break under their fruit load. Prune your trees well to improve air circulation. When to Prune, by Tree Type Most routine pruning is done to remove infestation, weak, dead or diseased branches, and can be completed at any time during the year with little effect on the tree. Heading should be used primarily for establishing branches in young trees. If trees already have developed side branches before planting, only the leader needs to be lightly headed. So if you don’t want to overstimulate a fast-growing tree or shrub, it’s best to prune lightly in winter and perhaps a little more extensively in July or August. Train and maintain a tree so it is open to the light. Very little cutting should be done, and then only to remove shoots and branches that are growing in the wrong direction (at right angles to the trellis) or are too crowded. Japanese plums are the most common fresh plum available for sale due to a longer shelf life than European plums. Try to visualize what the tree will look like without those branches. Apple trees are among the easiest, and most forgiving, trees to prune, but plums are just as easy. The Vase Training Method presented here produces a vase-shaped tree consisting of 3 or 4 scaffolds (main branches) of equal lengths and … When your tree is dug up from our fields to be shipped to you, the root ball loses many of its tiny feeder roots, which are needed to absorb moisture and nutrients. Our pages provide links to external sites for the convenience of users. Generally stimulates growth less … Plums are pruned in early spring or mid-summer to avoid infection by silver leaf disease. Thinning cuts are the ones you should use most of the time, because they tend to open up light channels throughout the tree. Often you can make one or two big cuts to thin out a large, crowding branch and have a better result (for you and the tree) than from a dozen cautious little nibbles that don’t solve the problem. A thick sap will emerge from the tree alerting you to their presence. Start by looking at the basic structure of the tree and choose two or three major branches to eliminate completely – ones that will open up central areas of the tree to light. Ideally scaffolds should be spaced evenly around the trunk and be of approximately equal vigor, but the more vigorous branches can be trained outward using spreaders to shape the basic framework of the tree in its first and second years. In this system, at planting the tree is headed at the point where the future main branches will be established, and three to five of the branches are selected to form the main limbs, or scaffolds. season. Trellis training is similar to the central leader, only in a more 2-dimensional framework. Pruning your plum tree step-by-step. Choosing a tree on the right dwarf rootstock is important, so that the tree doesn’t outgrow its space. Western Washington Tree Fruit & Alternative Fruits. The resources under ‘Backyard Fruit Trees’ should help you decide if a fruit tree is the right choice for you. After that, growth should be controlled by bending the branches to encourage early fruiting, and thinning out any shoots that are too vigorous. The European varieties are generally the easiest to grow. The best alignment for a trellis is north-south, so that both sides get good exposure to sun. Tree Training Training fruit trees starts when trees are planted, as setting the structure early helps young trees produce early.

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