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Crab Apple shaping

Discussion in 'NEW Gardeners !' started by Christopher Levett, May 3, 2021.

  1. Christopher Levett

    Christopher Levett Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi
    I have a Crab Apple tree (butter ball), planted last year, it's flowering really well but I'm concerned regarding the shape - there seems to be three main stems. Some advice would be great whether I should remove one or more of these later in the year.
    Thanks in advance
    C.

    20210423_184720.jpg
     
  2. Sheal

    Sheal Total Gardener

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    Can we have a closer picture of the top half of the tree with those three stems please?
     
  3. Christopher Levett

    Christopher Levett Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi
    Thanks for your response, hope the attached photos help.
    Chris
     

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  4. Sheal

    Sheal Total Gardener

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    From what I can see it looks as if the main stem has been broken off at some point in the past. It's then produced two leaders from that junction. If it was mine I'd take the chance and remove one plus the right hand shoot. But please don't do that yet, I'll ask for others thoughts. :)

    @pete, @noisette47 I wonder if you can help with this please.
     
  5. noisette47

    noisette47 Total Gardener

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    Hello Chris, I had a similar dilemma with my crab apple. They need formative pruning like any other fruit tree. I hope @Sheal will forgive me for taking a different approach! :) Looking at your photos, I'd take off all the stems below the three or four highest main branches. Clean cuts 1-2mm max from the trunk. The classic advice is to do this when the tree's dormant (in winter), but the longer you leave it, the bigger the 'wounds' will be. I'd do it now. If you want a bushier crown, cut the main branches back by a third (cut just above an outward-facing bud) next winter/early spring, before the tree comes into leaf. After that, it's just a case of removing any dead, damaged or crossing stems. Hope this helps :)
     
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    • Sheal

      Sheal Total Gardener

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      A good idea @noisette47 that hadn't occurred to me. :) I haven't much experience dealing with young trees.
       
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      • Christopher Levett

        Christopher Levett Apprentice Gardener

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        Thanks @noisette47 and @Sheal for your input I really appreciate it. I'll give this a try this week and hopefully I'll end up with a better shape tree, keeping on top of it through the year. Happy gardening!
         
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