When and how to cut sweet cherries in autumn

Pruning fruit trees is an integral part of caring for them, so every gardener should know about the features of this procedure in accordance with a specific season. In this article, we will talk about autumn pruning of cherries, and what exactly is worth remembering about the nuances of its carrying out taking into account the age of the tree - more on that later.

Why autumn pruning

Compared with other types of fruit trees, cherry berries are formed only on annual growths and bouquet branches, differing in high rates of bud formation in the spring and low tendency to branch. Because of this, it is desirable to form the crown of the plant according to the longline type, and then perform regular sanitary and anti-aging pruning.

With the systematic implementation of the procedure, the vegetative mass of the tree will not become too dense, which means that all branches will be equally provided with sufficient sunlight and good ventilation, which is an excellent prevention of infections and pests.

  • The common advantages of competent and regular pruning include: s
  • prevention of ailments (especially fungal origin);
  • prevention of pests;
  • proper formation of the plant stem;
  • increase in productivity indicators;
  • the formation of immunity and increased resistance to freezing.

Important! Thickening of vegetative shoots leads to the death of fruit buds, which will become less and less every year. To prevent this from happening, young and weak shoots are subject to removal, due to which the side branches are strengthened.

Optimal timing for autumn pruning

The first thing to decide before cutting the cherries is when it is best to start the task, so that in the future there will be a good harvest. Usually, the shortening of the shoots of cherry seedlings begins in the second year after its planting on the site.

The first post-landing pruning: a - before pruning; b - after trimming; c - The reaction of the newly planted cherry tree to prune after the start of the growing season.

In autumn, it is carried out from September to November, selecting specific dates in accordance with the climatic characteristics of the area. The warmer in a particular region of sweet cherry growing, the later you can start the procedure, but the main condition is the complete fall of the foliage.

This phenomenon indicates the end of the sap flow process inside the shoots, which means that the loss of some of them will be much easier for the tree. The ideal time for cutting is a dry and sunny day, but you need to finish the procedure before the first frost, otherwise the slices will not have time to tighten and the shoots will freeze.

Also find out when and how to cut sweet cherries in spring.

What you need to trim

Modern gardeners use a variety of tools to remove branches, the main of which are the following:

  • garden secateurs - used to remove branches with a thickness of not more than 20 mm (distinguish between options with parallel blades and varieties for single-sided cutting, which are great for clearing the crown from improperly growing branches);

  • delimbers - almost the same pruner, only with long handles, greatly facilitating the work with thicker branches (up to 50 mm in diameter);

  • garden knife - designed to shorten young green branches, clean the places of cuts and broken branches (thanks to the curved sickle shape, you can cut the branches at a certain angle);

  • garden saw - suitable for working with any type of branch, although it is better to give preference to an instrument with a length of at least 35 cm.

Regardless of which particular tool you came across, it should be well sharpened and free of rust, which will save the tree from unnecessary injuries. After working with blunt instruments, the sections are uneven, with a ragged surface through which pathogens easily penetrate into the tissues of the plant.

Cropping differences

Throughout life, gardeners perform several basic types of pruning: shaping, sanitary and rejuvenating, but the choice of the appropriate option will depend on the age of the plant and the state of its crown at each individual stage.

Pruning young cherries

Formative shortening of the young tree begins in the second year after planting a seedling on the site and is subsequently carried out annually when the plant reaches five or six years of age. The correct execution of the procedure ensures uniform growth of shoots, preventing their tangling and thickening of the crown.

Important! Forming on a young tree skeletal branches of the first and second order, pruning is performed along the length of the shoots, continuing weak skeletal branches. If the central conductor is developed too well, it is better to transfer it to a weak shoot, using the most powerful branches of the first tier to lay branches of the second order (at a distance of 70 cm from the tree trunk).

If we are talking about a one-year-old seedling, then after the procedure can be hoped for an increase in the number of branches located below, while reducing the growth rate of the rest, due to which it is possible to obtain the correct spherical and highly productive crown.

After the first forming pruning, about five skeletal branches should remain on the annual plant, moreover, three of them are usually located on the second tier, and on the third - no more than a couple of pieces remain.

The distance between adjacent tiers is maintained in the aisles of 0.6-0.7 m, although between the second and third tiers this value can be reduced to 0.5 m. The next year, when the procedure is repeated, any shoots located in the standard zone should be removed.

The final stage of the forming sweet pruning will be the final procedure for 5-6 years of plant life. In this case, irregularly growing shoots are subject to removal, which, located in the direction inward to the crown, interfere with the full development of the whole cherry. In addition, pruning of other branches is possible - with the aim of thinning the crown.

Video: annual tree formation

Pruning fruit trees

Most sweet cherry varieties become fruitful only by the 5–6th year of cultivation, after which the main purpose of shoot removal will be to maintain the height of the tree at 3–3.5 m, with a maximum height of skeletal branches within 4 m.

From this moment, the forming pruning of the plant is stopped for about 5 years, in the autumn period removing only diseased and damaged shoots that thicken the crown. After a five-year period, the fruits of the cherry are smaller, and the fruiting itself will shift closer to the peripheral part of the crown.

This will be the main signal for the rejuvenation of the tree, pruning of which is postponed to the coming February or March (autumn rejuvenation events are also sometimes held).

Pruning old

Often, cherry trees are considered to be old, whose age exceeds a decade. All of them are no longer distinguished by their former productivity, so the gardener is interested in rejuvenating pruning of shoots, especially since the process of harvesting is facilitated when the procedure is performed correctly.

To reduce the height of the crown, skeletal and semi-skeletal shoots are greatly shortened, while removing parts of large and smaller thickening branches inside the crown.

Such actions will contribute to the movement of fruiting inside the tree, and shortening of strong branches will cause additional branching and increased growth of annual shoots. The result of the actions taken will become clearly noticeable the next year, in the spring.

Did you know? When choosing cherry berries, pay attention not only to the appearance of the peel itself, but also to the color of the stalk. The best option is a rich green color, since brown or yellow will indicate overexposure of the fruits on the tree.

What to do after trimming

After pruning, it is advisable that all the wounds received by the tree heal as quickly as possible, therefore, care for the cherry in this period should be special. First of all, gardeners treat the places of cuts with special putty or garden varnish, applying them to the tree with a large brush or toothbrush.

After that, the near-stem circle of the plant is cleaned, destroying the leaves and other debris on which pathogens or pest larvae can remain. At the end of the process, you should dig the soil of the trunk circle, deepening the shovel by at least 15 cm.

After the planned water-loading irrigation (at least 10 l of liquid per 1 m²), you can additionally spill the substrate with a five percent solution of urea, which will also serve as a prevention of possible diseases or pest attacks.

You can learn more about how to deal with cherry diseases.

As for the winter shelter of sweet cherries, adult plants usually do not need it, although if a specific growing region is characterized by low snowy and very frosty winters, then mulching the tree trunk with straw or lapnik will not hurt.

Young plants are protected from the cold by agrofibre or burlap, and to prevent rodents from damaging the bark, it is recommended to bleach the trunks with lime (if necessary, they are additionally wrapped with a fine mesh).

Tips from experienced gardeners

Unfortunately, even choosing the most suitable autumn cherry pruning scheme and knowing how to perform the procedure correctly, beginning gardeners are not immune from possible mistakes.

Therefore, to reduce the likelihood of unpleasant situations, it is worth considering the recommendations of professionals:

  • stone fruit crops cannot be cut immediately “into a ring”, since this often causes gum disease and the bark will not be able to quickly tighten the wound (on the contrary, the surface layer of the tree will begin to move away from the wood and eventually it will be necessary to cut the skeletal branch to the place of the wrong cut);
  • it is better not to remove live branches in the fall, except when the forming pruning was not performed in the spring, and the tree itself grows in regions with a warm climate;
  • pruning is done a few months before the alleged frost, so that the plant has time to recover to the cold;
  • in addition to incorrectly growing shoots, it is worthwhile to remove sharp forks of branches.

Did you know? From the problem of bloating you will save the dosed consumption of cherries in portions: no more than 300 g at a time. At the same time, a break between meals of such food should be at least 2-3 hours.

Since most standard sweet cherry varieties are tall plants with fast growth dynamics, spring pruning will contribute to the formation of young growths and lower yields, so it is advisable to prune them in the fall after harvesting.

For beginners in horticulture, cutting sweet cherries may actually seem like a pretty daunting task, but this is only at first glance. Considering all the recommendations of professionals, the main steps will come to automatism over time and the question of how to make the crown of cherries well-groomed, while increasing the yield of the tree, will no longer be so relevant.

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