major pruning of plum tree - advice needed

HI all

My plum tree has fruited heavily this year, and (even though I thinned the fruit following advice on here) in the last spell of wet and windy weather a couple of the major branches (and several more minor ones) bent right over and nearly snapped, so they're now hanging vertically down. I left them on to see if the fruit would ripen, and it has. But now as we enter the second half of August I am thinking I really need to sort the tree out, sacrificing any remaining fruit if necessary.

So I'm after major pruning/cutting back advice. A couple of the branches which need cutting off are approx 1-1.5 inches thick. And several smaller ones, of 1/2 to 1 inch.

I know about the desireability of pruning in summer to avoid silver leaf. Should I wait until we have a couple of dry days forecast before removing the branches, to give them a chance to heal before it rains? (Will that make any difference?) Or is there something I can put on the raw cut ends to protect them?

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Posts

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,587

    I really wouldn't do it now - you'll really run the risk of them getting Silverleaf - the reason for doing it then is nothing to do with the weather - it's because the sap is rising then and that prevents the Silverleaf spores being taken into the plant.  From now on the sap is not rising and the spores can enter the plant tissue. 

    I really would wait until next June - otherwise you risk losing your plum tree. 

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,186

    Well i never knew that !  At what point in the year does the sap "change direction"??  Always get confused about plum tree pruning so if I understand the reason for the rules better I have more chance of remembering themimage

    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,587

    The leaves have all been grown for some time and the fruit has swelled - from now on the tree will begin to shut down operations, fruit will fall and leaves begin to change colour because the sap isn't rising any more.  

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • Beaus MumBeaus Mum Posts: 3,408

    Ooops I shaped mine last week! Do you think it will die now? image Didn't have many plums at all this year and was just getting huge!

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    Don't panic - the problem with silverleaf is that it travels in moist air. As long as you pruned in a dry, warm period you have a very good chance of being fine.

  • I think I'll have to have a go; there's some exposed wood anyway on the torn branches so spores could get in anyway. How close does a diseased tree have to be for spores to travel and infect a good tree?
  • RHS site says silverleaf infectious spores are only active between Sept and May so we might be Ok Beaus Mum!
  • Beaus MumBeaus Mum Posts: 3,408

    Thank you everyone, just had a look this morning and leaves look healthy and green so might be ok image

    Hope yours will be too catsmother image

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,587

    It's entirely up to you of course, but I wouldn't risk it - especially in a season like this, where autumn is coming early and the incidence of fungal and bacterial infections etc is high. 

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • But as I say the wood is already exposed where the branches are torn so I'm damned either way? image

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