How to cut sweet cherries and when
Cherry fruit trees are found in almost every garden of suburban and personal plots and this is understandable. Indeed, almost no one can remain indifferent to these sweet and juicy berries.
Experienced gardeners know that, in addition to following the basic rules for care, these trees need pruning and shaping, as one of the most important stages of agrotechnical procedures. It is this event that is able to provide a summer resident with a rich and high-quality crop.
Why do we need a cropping procedure?
Many beginner gardeners have very vague ideas about pruning, mistakenly believing that such a procedure is not so important in growing a tree and does not affect the amount of yield. However, fruiting will be stable only until the crown of cherries finally grows.
The lack of sufficient light will adversely affect the fruitful branches - they will die off, and fewer ovaries will form on the remaining branches, the berries will gradually be chopped and finally disappear.
In addition, a dense crown practically does not let air through, and every gardener knows that a prolonged lack of ventilation inevitably leads to the formation and development of many different diseases. All these problems can be prevented by regular pruning.
Important! Pruning should begin if the seedlings have reached a height of 50 - 70 cm, otherwise young trees will not be able to transfer it normally.
- So, the main purpose of this procedure is:
- fruit tree crown formation;
- yield improvement;
- increased resistance at low temperatures;
- control and prevention of various pests and diseases.
It should be noted that such a procedure begins to be carried out already in the second year after planting seedlings on the site.
Optimal timing for trimming
Depending on the timing, pruning pursues various goals, and therefore it is necessary to understand why it is carried out in the spring, summer, autumn and even winter periods.
Learn also how to plant cherries on cherries in spring and summer.
In the spring
Spring pruning is carried out in mid-March - early April - at a time when active sap flow and swelling of the kidneys have not yet begun. The main goal of this procedure is sanitary pruning and crown formation (shortening of skeletal branches).
The most popular way is to form in 2 tiers - 7–9 skeletal branches are left on the first tier, from 2 to 4 branches on the second tier. If the sweet cherry variety includes a tree whose length can reach 5-6 m, it is recommended that it is not high, shorten the crown to 3–3.5 m.
To minimize stress in cherries, this procedure in the spring is correctly carried out in stages:
- in March - sanitary pruning, which involves the removal of branches damaged and frozen during the winter;
- in April - corrective formation of the crown.
Read more about when and how to cut sweet cherries in spring.
Summer pruning is carried out in 2 stages:
- The first stage begins in late May - early July (immediately after flowering, but before fruiting) and consists in the removal of all young shoots growing in the middle of the crown, as well as weak, sick, broken by wind branches. The central conductor is cut off, leaving a length of about 3–3.5 m, thereby provoking the growth and development of a side shoot. Then, young shoots are trimmed into 5-6 leaves (i.e., their length after shortening is about 15-17 cm).
- The second stage is started after harvesting (end of June - beginning of July), cutting off the newly formed shoots into 2-3 leaves. The total length will be 10-12 cm - in a year such branches can give flower buds.
Video: sweet cherry pruning in summer
In the fall, pruning can begin immediately after the leaves fall and it is better to finish all the activities before the beginning of October, since it is during this period that the places of cuts overgrow much better. However, the timing may vary somewhat, depending on weather and climate conditions.
The main goal of the procedure is to remove all damaged and weakened branches, which will allow the tree to winter with the least loss.
In addition, all branches that have the wrong angle relative to the trunk are cut to the base - this pruning is called thinning. Also, branches are shortened - all annual shoots are cut to 1/3 of their original length. The optimum angle for the growth of cherry branches is an angle of 45–50 °.
Learn more about when and how to cut sweet cherries in the fall.
Relating to heat-loving plants, the cherry fruit tree reacts very negatively to pruning in the cold season. That is why experienced gardeners do not recommend carrying out any work in the winter.
An exception can only be the rejuvenation procedure, which is necessary when lowering the yield and chopping the fruit. The best time to carry out such a procedure will be the warmest days in February. Branches of each level are shortened by the length of annual and biennial growths.
What do you need to trim?
Starting the preliminary preparatory work related to pruning trees, it should be noted that carrying out this procedure will require not only special garden tools, but also additional equipment and various handy materials.
When purchasing them, you should pay attention to their quality, and therefore their durability, since pruning is a difficult and systematic procedure.
Important! The use of a garden saw is also recommended during autumn pruning, as the cuts after this tool are tightened much faster.
Consider the basic tools that may be required:
- Secateurs - used to remove and shorten branches whose diameter does not exceed 25 mm.
- The delimbers are, in principle, a tool similar to secateurs. The presence of long handles makes its use convenient for working in hard-to-reach places or in conditions of high crown density. Unlike secateurs, thicker branches with a diameter of 30 mm or more are removed with this tool.
- Garden saw - used in works with old cherries, as well as when removing thick branches.
- Knife - used during the cleaning of places of cuts, as well as in other works that require careful intervention.
- Scissors - rarely used in work with seedlings and young trees.
As equipment that may be required for gardening, note the following:
- stepladder - facilitates work with tall trees;
- garden gloves to protect hands from cuts and wounds;
- safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris (chips, dust, etc.).
In the process, various handy materials may also be required:
- rope needed to fix the branches;
- spacers, to adjust the angle of departure of the branches, as well as moving the branches that do not plan to trim;
- rubber, plastic or fabric cuffs necessary to protect the delicate bark of branches from tight garters.
The main differences in pruning
Taking into account some distinctive features of cherries, the pruning procedure will vary slightly at different stages of growth and development of the tree.
We recommend reading about the features of caring for cherries.
Pruning young cherries
The process of pruning young cherry trees implies, first of all, the formation of the future crown.
Among the many different ways, the following methods are most popular:
- According to the Vogel system - in 1 year of a tree’s life after planting, the seedling is shortened to 60–70 cm, leaving the two upper buds and removing the 5th and 6th buds located below. Following this principle, from the remaining kidneys, shoots will be obtained, the angle of departure of which will be much wider. In May, the buds will release new young shoots, a clothespin is installed over each of them - this will direct the growth to a horizontal position. A little later, such clothespins are moved to the ends of the shoots, and then replaced by small weights. In July, one of the upper shoots (the strongest) is removed. For 2 years after planting, the length of the central conductor is shortened to 80 cm, repeating the entire procedure of last year - 2 upper kidneys remain, 5-6 kidneys located below are removed.
Throughout spring, the direction of growth of new shoots is controlled. The buds located on the lower tier will let out new vertically directed shoots - they should be pinched over the 5th leaf, which will somewhat stop the growth. For 3 years, the formation of the third tier is carried out - the procedure itself remains the same. If, by this age, the height of the central conductor does not exceed 80 cm, the length should not be shortened. The branches of the second tier, the diameter of which is 1/3 greater than the diameter of the branches of the lower tier, are shortened to a length of about 15 cm. Further, the procedure consists in the constant maintenance of the formed crown of sweet cherry.
- Spanish bowl - the main goal of this system is to give the cherry tree a lower height and shape of the bush, which greatly facilitates various care activities, harvesting and pruning, including. The cup-shaped shape of the tree is obtained by the formation of 10-12 branches that grow naturally. In the first year of planting, the cherries are shortened to a height of about 45 cm from the ground, and after reaching 3-4 selected shoots 60 cm long, they are shortened to 30 cm. The length of the remaining shoots is removed by 3-4 cm. In the second growing season, the length of the vertical branches lower to 3 kidneys - this procedure is repeated 2 times a year, for 3 years.
For 4 years, the tree length is shortened to 2.5 m. Over the next year, the growth of a two-year-old plant is caused by growth hormones and the use of ring cuts on the kidneys. In addition, in subsequent years, the branches should be in a bent state, for which purpose a support structure is used on a two-year-old seedling. In the event that the growth of branches is less than 15 cm, a rejuvenating procedure is also applied on three-year-old wood. In general, such a system helps bring fruiting closer and is more balanced.
We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the formation of cherries in the KGB system from one year to four years.
Pruning fruit trees
The fruiting period begins already from 5-6 years of cherry life, after planting. The main goal of this period is to support the selected tree height and the length of the skeletal branches, which should not exceed 4 m. After the first harvest, the formation of the crown stops for about 5 years.
During this period, the main emphasis is on the removal of diseased and damaged branches, as well as monitoring the neglect of the crown. After 5 years, the berries are noticeably smaller, and the crop itself is shifted to the periphery of the crown. At this time, anti-aging pruning is performed (in late winter - early spring).
Did you know? The first mention of cherries is the record of the Greek writer Theophrastus, who lived in the 4th century BC.
After the first fruiting period, the tree is considered to be “mature”, and pruning is carried out somewhat differently:
- the crown of cherries to clean from old and diseased branches - that “load” that does not allow the tree to bear fruit;
- removed branches are cut completely to the base;
- young growth is also cut, as it requires too much energy for growth and development.
The rejuvenation procedure sometimes requires the removal of sufficiently large branches, which can cause gum disease. To minimize injuries, pruning is best done in dry and warm weather.
What to do after trimming
After pruning, all places of cuts on the tree are recommended to be processed, especially cuts of branches whose diameter exceeds 3-4 cm. Such an event must be carried out for the purpose of prevention - because an open wound can cause the penetration of various infectious diseases.
In order to properly process the slices, you must:
- wait for the complete drying of the slices when the juice completely ceases to stand out;
- with an uneven cut, the cut is leveled with a garden knife;
- the cut site is cleaned of sawdust;
- the garden var or any other means intended for processing is applied to the cut.
Video: Do I need to process cuts and slices after trimming
Tips from experienced gardeners
Gardeners with extensive experience in growing and pruning sweet cherry fruit trees caution beginners against the following mistakes:
- Many do not completely shorten the tops of seedlings, leaving a length of more than 1 m. Due to such actions, fruiting will be located no lower than 2 m from the ground.
- Inexperienced gardeners rush to lay the second and third tier, which leads to the weakening and withering away of the branches of the first tier. The result of this is the movement of the crown up and a significant reduction in the amount of yield.
- Often pruning is carried out on the principle of the formation of apple trees or pears. The consequence of this is the shoots having insufficient length, as well as a significant acceleration of the overall growth processes.
- Many gardeners do not cut off thick, long shoots (less than half), which leads to a delay in fruiting.
Did you know? Cherry berries can be used as a food coloring. However, despite expectations, the color will be green, not red.
At first glance, pruning may seem to an inexperienced gardener a rather laborious and dreary affair. However, gradually understanding all aspects of this procedure, it is easy to understand the basic principles of crown formation of sweet cherry trees. As a reward, you can get not only a beautiful garden, but also a constant and plentiful harvest.