Types Of Pruning Cuts

The two basic types ofpruning cuts are heading and thinning. Each results in different growth responses and has specific uses.

TABLE T2.1. Influence of pruning severity on growth of'Delicious' apple trees

Shoot growth/limb

Average length

Total growth

Pruning severity

Shoot number

(cm)

(cm)

0

20.4

19.6

402

1

16.0

23.6

361

2

14.9

24.8

362

3

8.4

29.6

244

Source: Modified from Barden, DelValle, and Myers, 1989.

Source: Modified from Barden, DelValle, and Myers, 1989.

344 CONCISE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TEMPERATE TREE FRUIT

60 n

1 2 Pruning Severity

FIGURE T2.1. Influence of pruning severity on flower clusters of'Delicious' apple (Source: Modified from Barden, DelValle, and Myers, 1989.)

Heading removes the terminal portion of a shoot or limb. By removing apical dominance, heading stimulates growth near the cut. Heading is the most invigorating type ofpruning cut, and the shoot or shoots that develop immediately below the cut reestablish apical dominance. Heading cuts are the most disruptive to the natural growth and form of trees, although they are useful to induce branching at specific points, such as in establishing scaffolds. In production systems where early fruit production is critical for economic return, use of heading cuts should be kept to a minimum.

Thinning, on the other hand, removes an entire shoot or limb to its point of origin from a main branch or limb. Thinning may also include the removal of a shoot back to a lateral shoot or spur. With thinning cuts, some terminal shoots are left intact, apical dominance remains, and the pruning stimulation is more evenly distributed among remaining shoots. New growth is dominated by the undisturbed shoot tips, while lateral bud development follows more natural patterns for that species or cultivar. Thinning cuts are generally the least invigorating and provide a more natural growth form for trees. Important in maintenance pruning, thinning cuts are used to shorten limbs, improve light penetration into tree canopies, and direct the growth of shoots or limbs. Studies show that heading cuts result in high numbers of shoots and reductions in fruit, whereas thinning cuts increase fruit number and control vegetative growth.

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