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  • Scaffold branches in year 1?

    I've been reading the stickied topic for pruning and shaping potted trees for a single trunk.

    My understanding is that:

    Year 1: allow only one vertical shoot to grow, which will become the trunk. In other words, prune off any side shoots that emerge, which would compete for energy and go into a useless branch that you would prune off anyway. In the offseason, you make a heading cut at a certain height (let's say 2 ft).

    Year 2: the heading cut will have encouraged shoots to emerge at the top nodes on the trunk. The hope is that you get 3 to 4 shoots to emerge. You allow these to grow in year 2 and they will become the permanent scaffold branches.

    Here is a question that I did not see addressed: what if a side shoot emerges in year 1 at a node where you intended to have a scaffold branch form in year 2 (i.e. it emerges from one of the nodes just below where you intend to make your heading cut in the offseason)? Do you allow the shoot to stay? Or do you strictly stick to pruning off all side shoots in year 1?

    Common sense would tell me to keep the side shoot, and the hope would be that a few of the other nearby nodes at the top of the trunk will put out shoots in year 2, to complete the 3 or 4 shoots necessary to complete the scaffold branches.

    Would there not be any concern, by letting the side shoot in year 1 to stay, that it would suppress the other nodes near the top of the trunk from putting out shoots in year 2? Something about "dominance blah blah blah"?
    Last edited by ieatfigs; 07-24-2021, 10:22 PM.
    GA, 7b

  • #2
    Year 1 I cut the main leader and form the scaffolds.

    Comment


    • ieatfigs
      ieatfigs commented
      Editing a comment
      When you cut the main leader, do you find that the scaffolds that emerge grow at the proper angle by themselves? I'm imagining some of them might want to grow straight up, which wouldn't be ideal. Or do you have to tie them down to grow at the proper angle?

    • Brian M
      Brian M commented
      Editing a comment
      Sometime the tip will continue to grow upwards . It keeps getting cut until the lower buds break

  • #3
    Originally posted by ieatfigs View Post
    I've been reading the stickied topic for pruning and shaping potted trees for a single trunk.

    My understanding is that:
    Year 1: allow only one vertical shoot to grow, which will become the trunk. In other words, prune off any side shoots that emerge, which would compete for energy and go into a useless branch that you would prune off anyway. In the offseason, you make a heading cut at a certain height (let's say 2 ft).

    Year 2: the heading cut will have encouraged shoots to emerge at the top nodes on the trunk. The hope is that you get 3 to 4 shoots to emerge. You allow these to grow in year 2 and they will become the permanent scaffold branches.

    Here is a question that I did not see addressed: what if a side shoot emerges in year 1 at a node where you intended to have a scaffold branch form in year 2 (i.e. it emerges from one of the nodes just below where you intend to make your heading cut in the offseason)? Do you allow the shoot to stay? Or do you strictly stick to pruning off all side shoots in year 1?
    Common sense would tell me to keep the side shoot, and the hope would be that a few of the other nearby nodes at the top of the trunk will put out shoots in year 2, to complete the 3 or 4 shoots necessary to complete the scaffold branches.
    Would there not be any concern, by letting the side shoot in year 1 to stay, that it would suppress the other nodes near the top of the trunk from putting out shoots in year 2? Something about "dominance blah blah blah"?
    If you maintain the single dominant main stem it will often cause the side branch to atrophy or at least remain small.

    If you want to use the side branch location the 2nd year simply prune it back to 1 or 2 nodes from the main stem also perform your heading cut or delayed heading cut. The main stem nodes and the nodes on the side branch will grow out at the same time, because there are no Auxins from branch or main stem apexes retarding their (bud) growth. you can then do some "summer" (later) pruning to remove any unwanted buds / branches before they become too large.

    BTW, this works for plants in colder zones, they have been dormant...


    Note the side branch upper right of the main stem with new bud growth...
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      ieatfigs ,
      You're welcome.
      I've never had much success establishing "Scaffold" branches in the 1st growing season at my Zone 5B location, usually ended with several spindly branches and small caliper main stem....

      The Three Steps are;
      1. 1st growing season should be to establish the main stem and solid healthy root mass, 3/4 inch and larger caliper main stems with 5 - 7 ft tall "Whips"
      2. 2nd growing season is when the heading cuts are done which induces the scaffold branches and a few dozen figs. The scaffolds grow out 3 or more feet during this season...
      3. 3rd growing season is when the heading cuts are done on scaffold branches to induce fruiting branches at approximately 10 inch interval spacing. Fruiting branches produce over 6 dozen figs this season and in future seasons....

    • ieatfigs
      ieatfigs commented
      Editing a comment
      AscPete okay I think I'll stick with your approach. Folks below are reporting that it's better to devote an entire year to each stage in order to have a stronger trunk and stronger scaffolds. And I'm not in a rush. There is no need to be in a rush. The tree will still produce fruits either way. So thank you!

      Now, let me ask you this. Say we strictly stick to growing as a single trunk, and rub off all baby side shoots, even the ones that grow at the nodes where we might want future scaffolds. Would the tree then be unable to produce shoots at those nodes next year? Or are there latent buds, sort of like with grapes. In grapes there are three buds to a node. If the primary one fails or is damaged, there are other ones that can grow at that node. Is it correct to assume rubbing off fig shoot buds would not affect shoot formation in the following year at that node?

    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      ieatfigs ,
      Once you stake the main stem and train the apex vertical most buds and branches lower down will stay dormant or remain small. They can be induced or trained later as explained. I don’t recommend removing the basal buds that are not interfering with the apical growth.

      There are multiple latent buds at each node, but at least one that will grow with minimal coaxing. You could also have (side) bud break with very slow growth where the nodes are closely stacked, can sometimes cause multiple branches from that “one” node.

  • #4
    Related question: If the primary trunk or scaffold is of sufficient length, why not head it regardless of the year to create the next branching rather than wait an entire year? I had several of my main trunks grow to 5+ feet last year. I air layered them and cut them back late in the year (like early Sept) but lost one base (air layer survived and is doing well). Thinking of heading back scaffolds (which are getting rather lengthy these days) now to give the fruiting branches time to establish now before dormancy. Seems like that would give a head start to next year’s growth.
    Eric - Hamilton, VA (7a)

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Eric ,
      If your season is long enough there is no problem in doing the pruning mid season (which is why some California growers dismiss the procedure) and bud break will usually occur closer to the pruned cut because there's still adequate amounts of Auxins to inhibit bud break along the entire pruned branch or stem.

    • bkkchris
      bkkchris commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes if you have the season for it I find it works great. Just chopped down the primary trunk of a Cravings Craven in May and already has some nice scaffolds going with fruit.

  • #5
    I imagine AscPete 's comment may also apply if cuttings were rooted very early in the season and given the proper growing conditions (warmth, grow lights, fertilizer, etc.) Below is a 1st-year Smith tree that I began rooting on 11/12/20. I cut the leader at 18 inches because it was growing so well. It now has four well-established scaffolds. My questions now is whether I should head the scaffold branches since it's still July and I would like them to thicken.

    2 seasons in 1 jrdewhirst ?

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    Salvatore - my students call me SC
    Zone 6a, SW Cleveland

    Comment


    • jrdewhirst
      jrdewhirst commented
      Editing a comment
      Sure, if you have a long enough season. The key was rooting the cutting in November.

      FWIW, I don't think the scaffolds will grow thicker if they are headed. Just let 'em grow. Then cur them back in dormant pruning.

  • #6
    I have learned a great deal in last year and half. Now, I try to finish training my newly rooted trees in one growing season. I found that heavy pruning at the end of the season will leave big scar on the tree. The scars will gather rain water and earwigs will live in them.

    If your new tree is more than 20 inch high, I'd pinch it. We still have plenty of growing season for the tree to form scaffold branches.
    Here's some of the pictures.

    Florea

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    And others



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    Cleveland South - Zone 5B.

    Comment


    • ieatfigs
      ieatfigs commented
      Editing a comment
      jake44141 I see the strings now. Thanks fig boss.

    • schampag
      schampag commented
      Editing a comment
      jake44141 How long do you like your scaffolding branches to be? Do you also head them in the first year? When?

    • jake44141
      jake44141 commented
      Editing a comment
      schampag, at this point, I believe longer the scaffolding branches grow, more productive the tree will be. So, the limiting factors are convenience of storage and the need to protect them from the early spring frost. So, I would keep the scaffolding branches for bigger potted trees to about 20". For 5-gallon buckets, that should be about 12". I would head them to encourage further branching. The scaffolding branches on the Florea already got pinched. The idea is to have the leaves spread out to harvest as much sunlight as possible.

  • #7
    I think the answer to your questions depends on what you are trying to accomplish with your growing season. I know there are some growers in the NE who advocate pruning during the first year’s growing season to create the right shape during the first year. Other growers in the NE promote techniques that maximize fruiting in the first year (pinching etc). Some people are okay taking years to develop shape, others try to do it all in a single season. Some people want max fruit, some want vegetative growth, some want a balance. There is more than one right answer to the questions you asked, but what is right for you will depend on what you are trying to accomplish and your specific circumstances.
    FigLife: www.figlife.com
    www.youtube.com/figlifedotcom
    [email protected]

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    • ieatfigs
      ieatfigs commented
      Editing a comment
      Right shape.

    • SubmarinePete
      SubmarinePete commented
      Editing a comment
      ieatfigs There is no one right answer. AscPete has a method and that is great; I've referenced his post myself many times. Personally, I would use the method that Dave S uses in CT. He posted it on his group "What the Fig" on Facebook. Just go to the "Files" section of the group. Its called "Pruning your Fig Tree Single trunk tree Style" Its basically the same method AscPete describes except you do it all in one season.

  • #8
    You guys are awesome. Lots of amazing information and wisdom here. Thank you!!
    GA, 7b

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    • #9
      I have grown scaffolds in the first year. I have even gone so far as to use Keiko paste to force branches to grow where I want. The problem I have experienced is the the limbs and trunk are weak. The limbs and trunk tend to fall
      over under a heavy load of fruit.

      Comment


      • Ejiron
        Ejiron commented
        Editing a comment
        I have also experienced the same issues. I agree with Gina

      • ieatfigs
        ieatfigs commented
        Editing a comment
        Citicodays ginamcd Ejiron

        So what you're saying is that it's better to devote an entire full season to scaffolds, as this will allow me to grow stronger scaffolds than I would if I did it all at once. That makes sense! Thanks fig bosses! I'm learning from the best!

        I am in no rush. And it's not like I wouldn't get fruits if I approached it stepwise, as opposed to all at once. So I see no advantage to doing it all at once now that you guys put it that way.

        Have you guys ever had any issue with strictly sticking to a single shoot, rubbing off all side shoots, and the tree having difficulty re-forming shoots next year at the nodes where you rubbed off the shoot in the first year? Or is that a non-issue?
        Last edited by ieatfigs; 07-26-2021, 09:23 PM.

      • ginamcd
        ginamcd commented
        Editing a comment
        If you do no pinching or pruning in year one, they typically don't try to branch from the low nodes.

        I've had a few over the years where one of the four nodes I had selected for a scaffold site did not produce a branch, so it can happen. When one of the other three scaffolds shows dominance and I pinch the growth tip, it tends to kick the lazy node into action. One thing I've found helpful it to take a paint pen and mark the nodes where I want scaffolds early in the season so I know what to rub off and what to leave.

    • #10
      Here's what I consider a good second year tree. It was a tissue cultured VDB from Hirt's garden I acquire last year on July 10th on the way to visit ammo1a1970 . When it was about 20", I pinched the top. With 3 gallon of soil in the pot, it has 49 fruits. I think that the only mistake I made is that I did not fully fill up the pot with soil until June this year. I don't make the same mistake again this year. Always make sure the pots are full so that the trees will grow more feeder roots. Last year, I actually believe that at the beginning, keep the pot half full, so that more soil can be added later to bury to tree deep.

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      Last edited by jake44141; 07-27-2021, 12:16 PM.
      Cleveland South - Zone 5B.

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      • ieatfigs
        ieatfigs commented
        Editing a comment
        Wow that's a lot of fruit!

    • #11
      Here's what I consider a well-formed first year tree. I would expect it to be ready to produce lots of figs next year. As a reward, it got up-potted to a 12.5 gallon pot yesterday. It still have 2 months of growing season to build up the scaffold and root system for next years production.


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      Pinch the top. Then pinch the new shoots to encourage branching from the lower nodes.

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      Cleveland South - Zone 5B.

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      • #12
        Just be aware that some members grow fig plants in hoop house, greenhouse. Or they are in zone 9 or zone 10. They all in much better growing zones than the cold zone 6 or zone 5.

        If you google "train young fruit tree", a lot pops up. For single trunk "tree", you want to train fig trees to "open center" or "modified central leader" form. Or you can train in bush form in cold climate. There are so many resources.

        https://www.groworganic.com/blogs/ar...h-cherry-trees
        Attached Files
        Princeton, New Jersey, 6B
        flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/red-sun/albums
        http://growingfruit.org/ for all fruits

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