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Apple tree - lost central leader

Hi. I have an ~3 year old apple tree with 2 espallier levels I have been training, and a third just starting. I was hoping to grow the tree slightly taller, and maybe fir in a fourth, but the central leader has been broken off.....

Can I either graft a new leader, or simply train a new branch to be a new central leader...? 


  • HelixHelix 704m altitude...Posts: 631
    Train a new leader....that's what the tree would do naturally.
  • Mr. Vine EyeMr. Vine Eye Posts: 1,659
    edited June 2019
    Is there anything left of it? Or has it completely broken off?

    Assuming it's all gone and you've just got the third tier branches:

    Next spring new shoots will grow from multiple points along the horizontal arms of that third tier that you're training now - select one of them to use as the new leader. Keep it safe when you do the summer pruning of the other shoots. Cut it to the height of your desired fourth tier the following winter and then continue from there.

    Or you may find that a suitable one develops this season

  • ben 234ben 234 Posts: 7
    Yes, the leader gone - or rather, it is not gone, but it did completely detatch (only the top few inches). I tried securing it back into place, wrapping the joint with clingfilm and tape, but pretty sure it hasn't taken. So if I train a new branch from one of the top tier horizontal espaliers, or one from near the top of the existing central trunk that hasn't been pruned, and train it vertically, I can use that as the leader - and over time it will just be a slightly bent tree? 

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