In a previous video, I showed how you can change the variety in older trees, using the bark graft. Check the video “changing varieties in old pear trees” to know more about this method and grafting technique.
In these older established trees, the grafts can develop quite quickly and the new branch growth can be very impressive. In order to develop the future tree shape in the shortest time possible, you might need to do some summer pruning.
Newly grafted branches that grow very quickly can break under strong winds since the graft union is still quite weak. Apart from pruning, it’s always a good idea to support them in the first year. The following year, the graft union will be strong enough.
Nevertheless, leaving the grafts unpruned during the growing season, is a poor use of the tree’s resources. Removing badly positioned branches early on will shape the tree in the quickest time possible.
Heading vigorous branches will force the tree to concentrate energy on the bud near the cut. This will direct growth in the desired direction and will also allow for a more balanced tree in less time.
Remove all the suckers from the rootstock. Remove new branches from the old variety so they don’t compete with the new grafts. Start pruning the grafted areas by removing all the lower branches of each graft.
These will not be used to the final shape of the tree, so we can remove them safely. After that, remove all branches that grow to the inside of the tree or that are crossing with other branches. These will have to be removed sooner or later, so they don’t interfere with each other or block the sun to other branches.
In my tree, I will have to remove all the branches that grow towards the main trunk. Next, remove branches that are too close together. You will have to allow enough space between branches that come from the same spot, so they can develop fully and don’t hinder each other.
For instance, when 3 branches leave the same spot, leave only one, or remove the one in the middle. Keep cutting branches, using the same techniques, until you have reduced each grafting spot, to the desired number of scaffolds.
After that, head the remaining branches, by cutting them near a well-placed bud. The new branch section will grow from that last bud towards the direction it points to. Also, the heading cut will break the tendency for a pure vertical growth and, if done in stages, can shape the branch grew into a more rounded shape.
If you have grafted different varieties to the same tree, controlling vigorous growth is especially important. This happens because different varieties usually have different growth rates. Always prune more aggressively the vigorous varieties or they will take over the whole multi varieties tree.
If a branch is growing too vigorous and vertical, remove it and leave a weaker branch, ideally in a more horizontal position. The weaker branch will not remove all the sap from the other grafts as a more vigorous branch might do.
Also, these wider angled branches will be more productive as they have a greater tendency for producing “fruit buds” instead of “wood buds”. With this tree I decided to graft 2 new varieties the following year, to add to the previous 2 I had grafted before.
One variety was placed in one of the older main scaffolds that were not grafted, was buds of the original variety had a tendency to grow. The grafting technique used was the modified cleft graft into a branch of the original variety that was allowed to grow.
The 4th variety was grafted on a weak branch of the original variety that was not pruned, also using the modified cleft graft. Check my grafting videos on the channel to know more about this grafting technique.
This last graft will have a tough time developing into a full branch due to his location and the competition with the other grafts. Grafting to a weak branch in a bad location, in an established tree, is not a good idea and it was only intended as a grafting technique demonstration.
Both of these new grafts won’t have any chance of developing well, without keeping the other grafted areas in check. This is the main reason for the heavy pruning I gave the tree at this time. You don’t need to prune this heavily and it may not even be recommended if your area is too hot in the summer.
It is usually best to prune lighter and reevaluate the pruning needs, at a later date. So, you can summer prune in stages, in the same year. This will make the winter pruning task easier and will produce a well-balanced and productive tree, much quicker.
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