zachw wrote:Here's a very neglected dwarf honeycrisp. It is about four years old and has never been pruned. It is spindly with a significant curve. It has started to produce a few apples. Should I prune the main branch or elswhere? If so, where?
Actually it looks in good shape. I like the way you're keeping sod from growing under the dripline.
I can't see the graft union. If it's not above the soil line, you need to pull the mulch back so it is exposed to air. This will keep the Honeycrisp scion from developing its own roots and becoming a full-sized tree.
The thing that stands out to me is that the tree ought to be staked. All dwarfs should be
in their early years. The standard dwarfs on B9, M9, and probably M26 root stocks need support throughout their productive lives. A standard 10-foot length of one-inch galvanized electrical conduit would do nicely, driven four feet into the ground (if you can manage it) about a half-foot from the trunk on the windward side -- in your case on the side the tree leans toward
Then you'll need to draw the upper part of the trunk over toward the stake, and, to hold it, you'll make "B" ties with a couple hanks of this:
I call this stuff chain. You twist it and thread it through itself. Then it untwists and latches to itself, creating a loose loop that won't loosen, tighten, or abrade the trunk.
The stake goes through one eye of the "B;" the trunk through the other. The stake eye can be as tight as you want. Leave the trunk eye loose so the tie doesn't girdle the trunk. These ties last indefinitely and can be loosened and repositioned year after year. You don't need a whole bunch, but, if you deal with a garden-supply outfit, you'll have to buy a whole bunch. Ask local orchardists and master gardeners to loan you some.
It's a young tree to be bearing very heavily. I'd thin the fruit down, after it sets, to just what I needed to taste this year. That way you'll get more vegetative growth for next year.
Likewise I'd clean up the trunk. This will cut back a lot on fruit set later, too. It looks like you have three nice branches about 18 inches above the soil. They may be a little low, but I'd keep them. You may need some 18-inch rabbit fence next winter, though. If there's a nice little fourth branch at about the same height but heading away from the trunk in a different direction, I'd keep it, too. Then you have some nice branches started at about four feet. I'd pick three or four close together vertically on the trunk and headed in different directions radially. Then I'd prune away everything on the trunk in between, including that nice little group of three at about two feet. You'd wind up with two tiers about 30 inches apart. Other than that, the leader looks good. If it takes off this summer (and it probably will), I'd pinch it back. It's not going anywhere but up, and it's probably close to as high as you want it to be. If you develop a little witches broom up there, that will set a few apples next year (and thereafter) and keep vegetative growth from there to a minimum.
Don't tarry. This needs to be done before bud break so the tree channels its energy where you want it to.
Next year you'll need to pinch back the upper tier so it doesn't overgrow the lower tier.
Nice pix, BTW.
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