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  • Pruning/training cuttings?

    After seeing Alma's (nepenthes) pictures of training of cuttings, I realize that I might be missing a step in getting my figs started. My original plan was to just let them grow however they grow and prune at the end of the season. Also, after getting my cuttings to root and leaf out, I was quite enjoying the lush forest of foliage under the grow lights. The thought of pruning was quite horrifying until a few of my cuttings reached a certain size (i.e. pushing foliage beyond the optimal grow light coverage).

    So, my newbie questions:
    • How soon should I start training a cutting?
    • Is the main idea with training the cutting to establish an upright main stem and discourage too much branching until the desired height is reached?
    • Other than achieving a certain form to the plant, is there any other reason for training?
    And here's a few cutting examples which aren't immediately obvious to me just how I would prune or train them:

    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 2 photos.
    Johnny
    Stuff I grow: Google Doc

  • #2
    I think if you want a tree form, you should let it grow until well established then remove the lower branches. Personally I would take your initial advice, let it grow and prune when dormant.
    Phil
    Zone 7A - Newark, DE; Zone 8A - Wilmington, NC;

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    • #3
      Hey Johnny! The whole reason I started pruning and training was from the advice of AscPete. This is the link he sent me: http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox....h-form-6388743

      From what he mentions, eliminating all but one stem has shown better production, faster. I was freaked out about marring my figs, too.
      Alma from Maryland 7b

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      • #4
        Its counter intuitive, but IMO and from my experience you should always stake and train young cuttings as single stem as soon as possible to maintain apical dominance and for faster growth. You will get faster increased caliper size in the shortest amount of time. The increased caliper size that you gain will net faster growth for the scaffold branches that form when you prune later in the year or next season, depending on the length of your season, whether you are pruning for bush or tree form.
        Attached are some examples of 1st leaf 1 gallons and a 2nd leaf 5 gallon plants.
        Click image for larger version

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        If you let the plants grow as a "bush", you may wind up with multiple thin spindly branches. Another benefit of single stem training is that on most cultivars you will be able to let a couple figs grow to harvest, but only if they do not slow the growth of the single apical tip.
        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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        • #5
          On the second tree you could cut off the smaller left branch and put a stake and tie the right branch to make it grow more upright. It is up to you.
          Jennings, Southwest Louisiana, Zone 9a

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          • #6
            I took the plunge. Fig tree reconstructive surgery is now complete. I trimmed off some branches and tied the main stem to train it more upright. I only suffered mild trauma from trimming off all that beautiful foliage.

            You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.
            Johnny
            Stuff I grow: Google Doc

            Comment


            • AscPete
              AscPete commented
              Editing a comment
              Good luck.
              You can also root the trimmings using one of the "summer rooting methods" or the 3- cup method, http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...rooting-method

            • nepenthes
              nepenthes commented
              Editing a comment
              I second the good luck. It took lots of courage, I know. Wishing you and your figs the best and I look forward to progress reports.

            • Needaclone
              Needaclone commented
              Editing a comment
              Johnny, you are a brave man. I have many a small tree that needs a good clipping. Like you, to me it never felt like the right time.

          • #7
            Looks good. I think you will be happy with the results.
            Jennings, Southwest Louisiana, Zone 9a

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            • #8
              Nice rigging job to straighten out your cuttings.
              Bill - Long Island, NY 7a
              Wish List: Glacia Negra and any fig from Bari.

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              • jkuo
                jkuo commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks. I have to admit I stole that idea from Alma after seeing pictures in her thread. Without that inspiration, I probably would have trudged out to the shed and looked around for some bamboo stakes.

            • #9
              No looking back now! Brave man.

              It will pay off later.

              Will you root the trimmings and how?
              Darkman AKA Charles in Pensacola South of I-10 zone 8b/9a

              Comment


              • #10
                I currently have the trimmings sitting in shallow cups of water. When I get a chance, I might try them in coir like I've done with all my cuttings this season. I've been having good luck (so far) with starting my cuttings in coir.
                Johnny
                Stuff I grow: Google Doc

                Comment


                • #11
                  Well done, they look good. The other thing you can always do to "straighten" a side shoot is to just turn the root ball at the next up pot so the shoot is now verticle.
                  I grow my cuttings on the floor in front of a sliding glass door, so the other thing I can do is to just turn the laterally growing shoot away from the glass. The shoot will then naturally bend up in search of more light.
                  Calvin, Wish list is to finish working on the new house, someday.
                  Bored? Grab a rake, paint roller, or a cordless drill and come over!

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                  • #12
                    Johnny,

                    Any updates on these trained cuttings? Thanks.
                    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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                    • nepenthes
                      nepenthes commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I'm interested in updates, too

                  • #13
                    I'm assuming this is something done after the plants are out of the cups.
                    Bryant...Franklin County, VA...Zone 7a. Wish List: a 32 hour day....more sleep

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                    • nepenthes
                      nepenthes commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I believe it can be done at any time. I skipped the cup phase, but I would have felt comfortable pruning and training once the plant was large enough.

                  • #14
                    I'm assuming this is something done after the plants are out of the cups.
                    Bryant...Franklin County, VA...Zone 7a. Wish List: a 32 hour day....more sleep

                    Comment


                    • AscPete
                      AscPete commented
                      Editing a comment
                      The 'Training' can start in the cup stage by staking the dominant branch, while the 'Pruning' can wait until they're up potted to larger containers.

                  • #15
                    Forgot about this thread. I don't remember exactly which cuttings I was asking about, but I suspect it was Lyndhurst White and/or Salem White. I've tried to train all my cuttings as a single stem this season. I mostly succeeded in training my trees as single stem, until life got busy. Most of my 1st year trees are 40" or taller now. From the cuttings I started in the early winter:
                    Height (from soil) Caliper
                    Lyndhurst White #1 66" 1"
                    Lyndhurst White #2 76" 1"
                    Marseilles Black VS 39" 3/4"
                    Ronde de Bordeaux #1 68" 13/16"
                    Ronde de Bordeaux #2 78" 1-1/8"
                    Salem White 45" 3/4"
                    The Lyndhurst Whites only set one fig which I don't expect to ripen. I have a few figs on most everything else which I expect to ripen and allow me to sample 1 or more fruit from most of my cuttings.

                    The measurements are from a small, uncontrolled sample, but the single stem training appears to work well to maximize trunk caliper and ramp up the trees to fruit bearing size faster.
                    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 3 photos.
                    Johnny
                    Stuff I grow: Google Doc

                    Comment


                    • jkuo
                      jkuo commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Heh, I guess I should read the captions I typed in the OP. The local unknown Italian is now a probable Brunswick. I'd measure that one, too but I'm not sure if it's still on my patio or if it was one of the culled extras.

                    • AscPete
                      AscPete commented
                      Editing a comment
                      BTW, depending on your planned tree heights you could start good sized air layers on the tops of those trees as the next stage in pruning.

                    • jkuo
                      jkuo commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I thought of trying some air layers at the tops. At the moment, the figs I want to ripen are right at the height of where I'd want to start the air layer. I'll probably wait until they go dormant and cut them back to a more sensible (4'-5') winter storage height.

                  • #16
                    Johnny,

                    How did these fig trees fare this season? and Did you prune the tops to establish the scaffolds? Thanks
                    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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                    • #17
                      The trees did pretty well this season. As soon as the season wraps up, I'll try to tally how much fruit I got.

                      I cut back most of the taller trees to 4-5 feet to get them into the garage. In hindsight I should have cut back a little more. I got nice branching, but mostly up at 3+ feet with a few growing branches at a more desirable 1-2 feet. The trees I didn't get around to top pruning branched out on their own near the top (4+ feet up). I just let the trees grow every which way this seasons since life just got busy. My plan is to prune this fall/winter to establish the desired scaffold branches, though it appears that those branches will be a bit higher up than I originally planned.

                      I had forgotten about this post. If I get a chance, I'll try to measure my trees again for comparison against the first year numbers.
                      Johnny
                      Stuff I grow: Google Doc

                      Comment


                      • #18
                        Thanks for the reply, looking forward to the added info...

                        IMO, 2 ft maximum above the soil line provides the best main stem height for scaffold branches.
                        It also is a convenient height / size for a handhold / handle (a few inches above soil line) when moving the 5 gallon potted trees .
                        Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

                        Comment


                        • #19
                          Finally got around to compiling some stats on my trees. I'll leave the full array of compiled values for another thread. For the trees mentioned in post #15, the follow-up measurements in year 2:
                          Tree Height Cut Heightt Caliper* Basal branches**/suckers Branching Height Number of branches+ Number of fruit collected^^^
                          Lyndhurst White 1*** 75" 58" 1 3/8" 1 29.5" 8 24^
                          Lyndhurst White 2*** 72" 58" 1 1/4" 0 21" 9 25^
                          MBVS 66" n/a 1 3/16" 3 35" 6 37
                          RdB^^ (in ground) 77" 16" 1" 4 5" n/a 1
                          Salem White 72" n/a 1 1/16" 1 42" 2 32
                          Notes:
                          * Caliper measured at 6 inches from soil line, except for RdB, which was measured at 4"
                          ** basal branches = taken as branches started at less than 6 inches from soil line
                          *** No idea which Lyndhurst White is which, so no guarantees on 1-to-1 correspondance
                          ^ Did not track fruit per tree, just aggregate. Aggregate was divided in half as a guesstimate
                          ^^ Planted in ground this season, cut back due to borer damage.
                          ^^^ Number of fruit collected != number of edible fruit (i.e., includes fruit ruined by bugs, souring, etc)
                          + Branches were counted above 6" (separate from basal branches/suckers)

                          I have non-existent controls for comparison, but anecdotal evidence and eyeballing my records has convinced me that single stem training for potted trees is a good idea. Plus, I just like the look of a single thicker trunk for potted trees.



                          Johnny
                          Stuff I grow: Google Doc

                          Comment


                          • #20
                            Good record keeping. I must try to get more discliplined and start writing things down. I did at least this year label most of my plants so that's a start.
                            Darkman AKA Charles in Pensacola South of I-10 zone 8b/9a

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                            • #21
                              Yes, that is very good record keeping.
                              Tony, Toronto Canada USDA 4B
                              Wishlist:
                              Corynth, Figue Janue
                              Yellow Neches, Brandon St Unk St Martain.

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                              • #22
                                Thanks for posting the followup info.
                                I've also come to a similar conclusion, that the single trunk tree is the best shape for potted culture.
                                Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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