Pruning apple and pear trees in old and neglected orchards.
Old apple and pear trees, 30-40 years old, constitute a significant percentage of the stand of our orchards. They grow in a loose spacing (100 —200 trees / ha) and have a semi-foamy or high-foaming form. In these orchards, excellent results are obtained by the "umbrella-shaped" cutting method introduced in Poland twenty years ago by Ing. M. Cegłowski at the Fruit Experimental Station in Sinołęka. Hence, this method is also called ,,Sinołęcka ".
Cutting in the shape of an umbrella consists in a thorough lowering of the crowns of old stiff or half-stem trees. The first step is to remove the top along with the branches filling the center of the crown (Lynx.).
Lynx. Lowering the crown of the old apple tree.
The crown then becomes half or even less 2/3 and open at the top. Sometimes old apple trees, and even more often pear trees have an educated conductor, on which the branches are arranged in storeys. The guide must then be shortened by 1/3-2 / 3, leaving only from 1 do 2 tiers of boughs, in the number from 5 do 7. The distances between the floors at the base of the branches should be approximately 1 m, and around the circumference of the crown 2 m. Old apple trees much more often have cauldron crowns with branches gathered in one whorl. In this case, remove 1 / 3–2 / 3 branches from the center, leaving these, which either have a horizontal position, or even hanging down (Lynx.).
Lynx. Cutting the top of an old pear tree.
After cutting the top and middle branches, the branches around the perimeter of the crown should be x-rayed. We loosen them to such an extent, that neither of them intersect or rest on the other. By making a spring cut, it is worth remembering about the leaves, fruit and growth, which will be a significant burden on the branches during the summer.
The limbs will bend downwards and should not lie on the lower limbs. A properly pruned tree should be no more than 4 m from the ground to the top.
Some varieties of apple trees require, in addition to the overexposure and lowering of the crowns, a detailed cutting of the fruiting shoots. These include the Landsberska variety, Wealthy, Inflancka Olive - all of these, which in old age form a large number of fruit-bearing branches. These twigs need to be partially thinned and shortened, to slightly reduce the number of flower buds and to limit the yield in favor of its quality.
After a thorough cut in the first year, the shape of the crown changes shortly. The lower limbs left behind bend downwards under the weight of the crop and the crown takes the shape of an umbrella. It is very beneficial, because all the branches are exposed to the sun, and at the same time many of them are within easy reach of the worker, standing on the ground, which allows you to pick the fruit without using a ladder. Low trees facilitate cutting in later years and allow effective spraying.
The cutting of trees in the following years is different than in the first year. The branches left in the first year usually remain throughout the life of the trees. Cutting is restricted to these limbs. The most laborious activity is removing the so-called wolves, a great deal of which grows at the base of all the branches (Lynx.).
Lynx. Pruning of wolves in the years following the lowering of the apple tree crown.
These wolves on loose and very well sunlit trees are basically not harmful, however, left on for two or three years, they grow into new branches and completely fill the center of the crown. Therefore, they must be cut smooth, at the very limb. Unfortunately, they grow back after cutting, so this operation has to be repeated every year (Lynx.).
Lynx. Pruning wolves in the years following removal of the top of the pear.
Wolves are cut down in spring when trees are scanned. However, they can be selected in May or June, or also cut in July and August. Summer cutting of wolves gives better results than winter cutting, because it limits their growth a bit. Summer cutting exposing the center of the crown even more accelerates the color of apples.
In order to limit the growth of wolves, it is worth the first year of pruning (when thick branches are removed) smear the wounds with emulsion paint with an additive 10% Pomonite R 10 (120 ml of Pomonite per 1 liter factory).
Large distances between trees in old orchards usually provide space for trees to grow freely. With a planting density of 8 x 6 m or 7 x 7 m, it may sometimes be necessary to limit the development of crowns in the inter-row direction. In this case, the tops of these limbs must be shortened, which enter the working street and hinder the passage of machines.