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  • The best strategy for pruning after most of the tree was lost to cold damage

    Sorry if this has already been covered but I wasn't able to find such a post. I have several in ground trees where most of the wood died and the dead wood (or most of it) has been sawed/pruned off leaving 2-4 stumps that stick up 4-12 inches. What all of these figs have done is to initially send up strong shoots from the base of trunk(s) and then later start pushing out buds further up the trunk, closer to where it was cut. I only want about 4 new trunks because with more trunks they would shade each other too much. Since the shoots at the base come out first they are the largest shoots. However, if I remove the younger shoots that come out further up the trunk (and select the ones at the base to be the "survivors") then eventually that wood will die and the tree won't have the advantage of the energy reserves stored in the trunk. So I have typically been removing the larger shoots coming from the base and leaving the shoots coming out higher along the trunks (closer to where the trunks were cut). This will probably mean my chance of getting fruit this season is lower unfortunately, but it seems better for the tree on the long run. It would be interesting to hear what others think about this though - is there a better way? I'll try to post a photo tomorrow.
    Last edited by Rewton; 05-24-2015, 06:47 AM.
    Steve
    D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
    WL: Nantes Maroc

  • #2
    I have the same thing happening. I'm fertilizing to maintain growth and I'll a/l off the branches that need to leave when I figure out what they are. I'll probably leave most of the lower branches and bury them so if it dies to the soil level later there will be lots of nodes to recover from.
    Bob C.
    Kansas City, MO Z6

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    • #3
      Steve, I would think you might want to leave one of the new shoots to form a "new" main branch, just a thought. I had a similar problem with heavy dieback on a tree last year, but it is not really apposite because I transplanted it into a SIP after it lost 50% due to the polar vortex 2013. But it is true that the nodes that popped below the dead line on the trunks were slower than new shoots. Your point sounds confusing because you are saying you want to give energy from the trunk to slow growing nodes on the stumps and by cutting suckers off you will allow the plant to devote more energy to the slow-budding nodes left on the stumps?
      Rafael
      Zone 10b, Miami, FL

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      • #4
        Rafael, that is essentially what I am saying. I did edit out a couple grammatical errors just now so maybe that will help. It seems like once the new shoots form further up the trunk they grow just as fast as the shoots coming out from the base - it's just that they appear later and, as we know, time is of the essence, especially with late varieties like Battaglia Green. I think I will, in most cases, keep one of the best shoots coming from the base and otherwise try to select for the later appearing shoots further up the trunk.

        Bob, I get what you are saying but want to avoid a situation (like we have all seen before) where you have a cold damaged tree recovering with about 100 individual thin trunks!
        Steve
        D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
        WL: Nantes Maroc

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        • #5
          I think it'll depend on the variety too. Later ripening varieties you'll want fewer stems/trunks while earlier varieties will be less impacted by more trunks.

          I am in a similar position with my in ground plants. I plan let them grow more or less untouched until at least mid June before removing any stems.
          https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
          SE PA
          Zone 6

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          • #6
            Here are some photos that show examples of what I am describing. In the RdB pic you can see that I left one shoot coming from the base and it is the largest shoot. With Kathleen's Black I have let more shoots grow in general (for now) while with Paradiso Gene and Adriatic JH I have thinned them out more.
            You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 5 photos.
            Steve
            D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
            WL: Nantes Maroc

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            • #7
              My preference is to keep the growth concentrated in one area on one or more main trunks that are protected in the early years, it will keep the tree size and growth manageable. Allowing the suckers to take over will eventually create a large "clump" of smaller trunks that will over time spread and create a large underground "trunk" as in the attached photos. Also a photo of a main trunk that has been trained and cultivated to remove all the suckers.
              You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 7 photos.
              Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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              • #8
                Yes, that is a good point about keeping the trunks concentrated in one area given limited space. With my Battaglia Green (and a couple others) I have a horizontal trunk close to the soil line that I have allowed to send off a shoot close to its end - this has the advantage that this trunk is easy to winter protect but it will increase the area that this tree occupies.
                Steve
                D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
                WL: Nantes Maroc

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