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  • Stepover questions

    ​I've decided to try training my future in-ground trees as stepovers, since it seems like it would be much easier to protect them for the winter. My first candidate is my Hardy Chicago, which I think is currently big enough to put in ground:

    Click image for larger version

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    So, the questions:

    1. Can I just bend the two stems to horizontal, or is it a better idea to start with a single stem pruned to induce branches?

    2. If I bend the stems, should I do it now or at the end of the season? If training horizontal will negatively impact fruit production this season, I'd be pretty sad and tempted to wait until the end of the season.

    3. From what I can gather from the Japanese stepover fig description, the verticals are trained ~8 inches apart on alternating sides along the length of the horizontal cordon with a ~3 ft spacing between vertical branches perpendicular to the horizontal cordons. I take this to mean I should plant ~4 feet away from the south wall of my house so I have space to walk between the tree and the house to pick the figs. Does that sound right?
    Johnny
    Stuff I grow: Google Doc

  • #2
    Johnny,
    Here's a topic with some basic diagrams of the "Japanese Stepover Espalier", http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...form#post11735 its also located in the "Index of Frequently Referenced Topics".

    In answer to your questions...
    1. Its best if you start with one (1) main trunk and prune it to develop the two (2) main cordons. The tree will produce uniform vertical fruiting branches and have "better growing habits".

    2. You would let the stems (future cordons) grow vertical as high as possible to get the desired "cordon" length before placing it horizontal.

    3. The width of the espalier can be kept under 2 feet... so that you can access from one side only, http://point09acres.blogspot.com/search/label/Espalier note this link in the attached pruning topics. Good Luck.
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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    • #3
      I went with two stems, basically the same as what you have. Bent them across each other .......so stem on the right goes left stem on left bent right. Click image for larger version

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      Cutting sales have ended for the season. Plant sales will start March 1 at 8 eastern time. If it is still too cold in your area I can hold your plants till a date of your choosing.

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      • TylerJ
        TylerJ commented
        Editing a comment
        I have one similar with 2 trunks that I was going to try and when I bent them down (it was already in a "V" shape so I didn't think it would a problem) I noticed it wanted to split where they join. Maybe crossing them over is best for strength as Wills has done. Tyler

      • WillsC
        WillsC commented
        Editing a comment
        Greg,

        You and Tyler have it correct.......the primary reason was strength. If you bend the right one right and left one left the crotch becomes a very weak spot. Crossing them pushes the crotch together so no splitting concerns. Also just liked the way it looks. I'm not really worried about rot issues.

      • GregMartin
        GregMartin commented
        Editing a comment
        Very good, thanks. Also, in case you haven't heard it enough yet....really love this new forum!

    • #4
      Thanks for the input. It sounds like a single trunk is my best long-term bet, though I was tempted to take the convenient solution and just bend down my current two trunks. Unless someone sees a flaw with my reasoning, my current plan of action is to start air layers on the two trunks. One air layer will be close to the soil and one above the desired height of the stepover. At the end of the season, I'll chop one trunk completely down and leave the other trunk at the desired stepover height.
      Johnny
      Stuff I grow: Google Doc

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      • #5
        Johnny,

        Another option is just plant it as a single cordon, remove the other side completely. Have one cordon going say left and plant another fig so the end of it's cordon terminates where the trunk of this one starts.
        Cutting sales have ended for the season. Plant sales will start March 1 at 8 eastern time. If it is still too cold in your area I can hold your plants till a date of your choosing.

        Comment


        • #6
          Wills, that's a good idea. The asymmetry might disturb my visual sensibilities though. I think I need two balanced branches from a central trunk for my personal sanity.
          Johnny
          Stuff I grow: Google Doc

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          • #7
            Jkuo,

            Yep I agree it looks much better as a double. The thing is given your climate you would probably want the plant to grow as quickly as possible so less cordon length would be in your best interest would it not?
            Cutting sales have ended for the season. Plant sales will start March 1 at 8 eastern time. If it is still too cold in your area I can hold your plants till a date of your choosing.

            Comment


            • #8
              Good point. I would be up and running faster with a cordon going in a single direction. Actually, I thought of another reason for the single cordon approach that might override my desire for symmetry: it's easier to fit three varieties instead of the original two I was planning along my south wall. I'll have to mull it over. At any rate I've got some time before I need to decide. I still have to cut down a rhododendron along that wall, but a robin decided to nest in that tree. I've got a bird delay to my planting plans at the moment.
              Johnny
              Stuff I grow: Google Doc

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              • #9
                One reason for starting with a single stem plant is that it will cut down on the additional suckers that will form if a multi-stem plant is pruned to single stem, due to the pruning technique, yearly removal of all the bud inhibiting auxins (hormones).

                The dual cordon is used in this technique and in the Japanese Manual because the trees are planted @ ~10 feet on center for the first 4 years then thinned to 20' on center (removing alternate plants). The cordons are extended to cover the additional 10 feet after the 4th year. The future growth (enlargement and expansion) of the espaliered trees are planned in advance as is the vascular flow of nutrients and auxins. Multiple and single cordon espaliers were tried and were discarded in favor of the Dual Cordons for better fig production.

                Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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                • #10
                  I suppose I can wait another year to start my stepovers with single trunk specimens.

                  How different was production between the single, multiple and dual cordon setups? I don't think I'll be growing them out to cover 20 feet. I have some space, but not that much space. 10 feet would be an upper limit, and 8 feet is more realisitic. I'd rather have a few different varieties than lots of one type.
                  Johnny
                  Stuff I grow: Google Doc

                  Comment


                  • AscPete
                    AscPete commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Don't know the actual numbers, but the production of the dual cordons are listed on your linked prescriptive document,
                    its listed as amount of figs per 10 ares (~1/4 acres and 75 trees). My in ground espaliers are all 10' max (10' length of 3/4" EMT). The 20' length was designed for a milder climate zone and longer growing season.
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