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pruning maiden apple trees

tokersgreentokersgreen Posts: 4
edited 10 February in Fruit & veg
We have recently planted a community orchard with 30 fruit trees. They are 'unfeathered maidens' approx 5 feet high and need their first prune. As they are in an open area, deer are a known risk and we have put 1.2m high treeguards around them (10x10cm section made from biodegradable card with breathing holes in the upper section).

We have a question - the pruning guidance is to cut back to 75cm but that 'feels' low inside a 120cm treeguard which might restrict the growth of the buds that will become the main branches?

What's more important, getting the pruning right from year 1 or ongoing deer protection? I'm thinking that pruning to 75cm and reducing the treeguards to 90cm is the best compromise. What do you think?

Posts

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,368
    That advice is partly to keep the fruit within reach, so if you want folk to be able to walk under the trees when mature, rather than around them, you could prune them a few buds higher than the top of the guard, and let those develop into the new leader and lowest main branches.  I think deer would easily reach the tops if you cut the guard down to 90cm, unfortunately.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thanks - it's worth me saying that the trees are about 120cm at the moment i.e. around the same height as the top of the guard. Also that they are on M26 rootstock i.e. going to grow to about 2.5-3m high eventually. They're 3m apart and we also have pear, cherry, plum and quince. There are definitely muntjac deer close to the village (info suggests they eat up to 60cm. Roe/fallow deer have been seen less than a mile away but not near the orchard.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,368
    In that case, I'd reduce the height of the protection as you suggest.  90cm would be fine against muntjac.  These situations are always a compromise, but trees want to grow, and winter pruning the whips at any reasonable height will stimulate vigorous new growth, so as long as they don't get damaged later, I'm sure they'll be fine. :)
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • We received similar advice from another forum and also the nursery where we bought the trees. We reduced the height of the tree guards to about 90cm and pruned the trees to approx 110-120cm. However, 4 of the trees (at the edge of the orchard) have had their tops damaged. It's not (human) vandalism as that would most likely follow the path. So I conclude it must be "full size" deer or very tall muntjacs. Should we raise the height of the guards to protect the top (and leave the bottom 15-30cm of the trunk exposed)? Or will that risk a problem there?
  • We received similar advice from another forum and also the nursery where we bought the trees. We reduced the height of the tree guards to about 90cm and pruned the trees to approx 110-120cm. However, 4 of the trees (at the edge of the orchard) have had their tops damaged. It's not (human) vandalism as that would most likely follow the path. So I conclude it must be "full size" deer or very tall muntjacs. Should we raise the height of the guards to protect the top (and leave the bottom 15-30cm of the trunk exposed)? Or will that risk a problem there?
    Maybe raise the existing guards and add a spiral tree guard to the lower section?
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 80,431
    My brother has a photograph of a muntjac standing on it's hind legs and reaching a bird feeder hanging from one of those shepherd's crook bird feeders.  They can reach a long way up when they want to.  
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







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