In the young, nonbearing tree, the focus of management is development of tree structure with the objective of filling the allotted canopy space within the given orchard system. Light pruning is more desirable than heavy pruning during this period, as heavily pruned trees exhibit less increase in trunk and root growth than trees that are lightly pruned. Pinching the tips of developing laterals in apple results in a decrease in total shoot growth as severity of pruning increases. Although remaining shoots are significantly longer, shoot number is decreased.
Positioning of limbs influences the subsequent development of vegetative growth and lays the groundwork for the development of fruiting wood. Vertical limbs develop relatively few laterals, with number of laterals increasing as orientation moves from vertical to horizontal. Although more shoots develop on horizontal limbs, average shoot length is reduced. Positioning limbs at moderate angles allows an increased number of laterals to develop while minimizing reduction in shoot length.
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