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Fan trained apple question

Morning! I have recently bought a young apple tree for fan training, which has already been started in the right direction by the nursery. 

However, I have been reading advice on fan training, and have confused myself! All advice says to cut off the leader to create the fan branches. My tree has two branches, one off to the side in the right place for a fan branch, the other pointing almost straight up. Should I cut off the almost straight one? 

It seems drastic, and I am cautious to do anything that will harm the tree, but I do need it to make a fan shape. I will try to attach a picture...


  • steorrasteorra Posts: 12
    Ah my picture has posted - excellent! Note that this is of course not the final position of the tree. I have popped it in a pot temporarily, as it arrived bare rooted, and I need to finish preparing its permanent home.
  • steorrasteorra Posts: 12
    Hopeful chop or not? 🤔 
  • Jason millyJason milly Posts: 546
    Did you pick the tree yourself or was it mail order,
    If I was picking a tree to fan train I would be looking for a tree with many branches working up the main stem that I could then tie to supports  your tree seems to be missing the structure of branches, it still could be done but would take longer and more research as you would have to nick out some of the bark to make the tree think it needs a new leader, if you could take it back and explain to the nursery what you intend to use the tree for it would save you a lot of time and trouble . 
  • steorrasteorra Posts: 12
    Thanks Jason. The tree came by mail order, bought specifically as a fan tree (there were options on the site for standard, half standard, miniature, espalier, etc). I admit it doesn’t look how I expected! But I think it would be tricky to send back so I’m inclined to work with what I have.

    Do you know (or can anyone suggest) where I can find detailed information on what to do next? Guides I’ve found online so far are rather basic and assume you are starting with a whip. I’m happy to put some work in learning how to do this but I am currently stumped 🤓
  • Jason millyJason milly Posts: 546
    Yes I started with whips I will put some photos on tomorrow I did mine in winter , try utube I think you would have to get some growth on the main stem in between bottom branch and top ones to do this you would have to make a ni in the bark were you require your new bud, the nick in the bark stops the tree from sending info to top branch saying its the leader and thinks the nick is to be new leader all will be revealed with a bit of watching and reading  
  • steorrasteorra Posts: 12
    Yes, I see, I need to persuade it to produce some more side shoots off the main stem, at intervals above that bottom side branch. Which I can do by nicking the bark, presumably to create one branch at a time...I’ll have a proper rummage on YouTube and try to get my head around the exact process. Some photos would be great if you find time. Thank you ☺️ 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 82,779
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • AlchemistAlchemist Posts: 267
    And this....

    Book is: RHS pruning and training by Brickell and Joyce. Highly informative. 
  • Mr. Vine EyeMr. Vine Eye Posts: 2,260
    How was the tree described on the website?

    The company I bought my Apple tree from last year has photos online of each form of tree they sell to show what they will look like when they arrive.

    If you paid extra for a pre-trained tree it should be as described. Otherwise you might as well have started with a 1 year old maiden and done it yourself.

    East Yorkshire
  • steorrasteorra Posts: 12
    Thanks, Dovefromabove (is that a shooting stars reference?), I appreciate the reply. I have read the RHS guide you shared, however, my problem is it says:

    3. Choose either a maiden whip (a one-year-old tree with no branches), a feathered maiden(with two branches suitably positioned to be the main arms of the fan) or a part-trained fan

    ...and I don’t seem to have any of those things 😉. I thought I was buying a part trained fan but I’m pretty sure that’s not what I’ve got 🤦‍♀️. So I’m trying to work out how to persuade what I have got to produce some suitable branches for training.
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