How to support fruit tree branches
Bending Fruit Tree Branches - When, How To, And Why?
Gardening can be fun; however, it's serious science that helps you understand the specific mode of pruning and handling fruit trees. If you have heard of bending fruit tree branches, you might wonder why, when, or how to do it. You are in the right place as we've inquired from experts and got informative answers.
Fruit tree branches are bent to increase fruit, eliminate sick branches and regulate growth. Branch bending can be done in the cold months when the tree isn't bearing fruit and is dormant. You can use weights or limb spreaders at the base of each branch.
Does it sound complicated or straightforward? Either way, continue reading to discover what the experts mean and how to go about it.
Bending Fruit Tree Branches
Whether growing fruit trees for commercial or personal consumption, you want to see them have fruit. However, you don't have to be an expert to know the ropes of growing fruitful trees.
Before you bend every fruit tree branch around, you'll need to understand how, when, and why.
Why Bend Fruit Tree Branches
You'll need to train any fruit tree to flourish and bear healthy fruit. Training your fruit tree branches means bending the tender branches to:
- Spread the new shoots to ensure some branches won't have more fruits than others.
- Spread the older branches to increase fruits on them.
- Ensure that each tree branch gets enough sunlight for active growth.
- Ensures the fruit tree remains manageable throughout its fruit-bearing period.
- It slows down the growth and calms the tree. Reduce excessive vegetation on the tree to allow more fruit buds to appear.
When To Bend Fruit Tree Branches
Now that you know why you should bend fruit tree branches, the next step is understanding when to do so. Experts advise bending the fruit trees:
- During the warm weather, when the tree has intensive growth.
- When tree branches are one or two years old, older tree branches might snap easily when bent.
How To Bend Fruit Tree Branches
Finally, you are ready to start bending the branches on your apple or pear fruit trees. Bending a fruit tree branch shouldn't be done all willy-nilly. You might have fruit trees that are not as young; thus, take extra care.
The procedure is straightforward.
- Bend the branches at a 45 or 60-degree angle. Be gentle with older branches and bend them only as far as possible.
- Use twine with weights at the end to secure the branches. Alternatively, tie the twine without weights on the stem of the tree.
Check out this jute twine for gardening on Amazon.
- You can also use notched limb spreaders. For more effectiveness, place them at the base of the branch.
Here are plastic limb spreaders on Amazon.
Please ensure the twine doesn't cut into the branches as this can damage them.
Here's a short tutorial on how to weigh down the fruit tree branches without damaging or breaking them.
Which Direction Should You Bend Fruit Tree Branches?
First, look at how your fruit tree branches grow. Then bend the branches in the direction of the crotch of the branch.
Where you have a weak crotch, don't weaken it further by bending the branches downwards. Bend the branches sideways to save the fruit branch. The maximum angle advised is not more than 60 degrees.
The branches should not be horizontal to the growth as this will suppress their growth and fruit-bearing capabilities. Branches bent below the horizontal have less vegetation, and most of the buds help the tree become more productive.
How Long Can You Bend A Branches
Bending a fruit tree branch mimics fruit-bearing, which tricks the tree into storing lignin at the base of the bent branch. To ensure the branch stores enough lignin, it has to bend for at least two weeks. Most times, the branch will be wholly influenced by the third week, and you can now remove any twine or ropes.
How To Support Fruit Tree Branches
Once fruit trees have been pruned on time and properly nurtured, they will start bearing fruit. You might have fruit in abundance, and the fruit branches will start hanging over.
The fruit tree branches will need support. It would help if you used stakes and pegs to support the branches. The size of stakes to use depends on the height of the fruit tree in question.
How To Take Care Of Fruit-Bearing Trees
Provide the best care for fruit-bearing trees in all their growth stages. Additionally, they make your property more attractive and add value to it. Use the following tips to care for orange, apple, or pear trees.
Not all trees will fair well in your vicinity. Therefore, before you settle on any fruit tree, do thorough research for a fruitful endeavor.
Fruit trees need soil rich in nutrients as well as well-drained. In the early stages, prepare the soil and enrich it thoroughly for the seedlings to increase and be healthy. Mushy and swampy areas are not ideal for planting fruit trees.
Light & Spacing
Fruit trees love ample sunlight and enough spacing. Don't plant them too close to shrubs and bushes. Neither should the area have grass to avoid competition for nutrients.
Watering the fruit trees is vital at the early stages. Watch out for fungal infections and pests that might destroy the tree and its fruit.
Pruning and branch bending are ways to increase your harvest. Gardeners must do this regularly to ensure a constant abundance of harvest. Don't skip or ignore these steps if you don't want your trees to die.
Generally, if you know nothing about fruit trees, seek an expert's services.
Laziness will make your fruit trees suffer and make you continue buying fruits from the store even with fruit trees in your back yard.
How Pruning Helps Fruit Trees
Pruning is not a complicated process; any first-time fruit tree grower can master it in a short period. All trees need pruning; the following steps apply to most fruit-bearing trees. Pruning helps:
- Clean up the tree by removing sprouts on various parts of the tree. Cut any dead wood to create room for young, vigorous tree fruits that can bear fruit.
- Create light by cutting out multiple branches growing from one point.
- Lastly, cut the longer tree branches to thicken them. Thicker and shorter stems are sturdier and can hold fruit.
Ensure that you use sharp and clean shears for pruning. When you finish pruning your fruit trees, clean the area of any debris, such as diseased branches.
Have a look at these pruning shears on Amazon.
Repairing Broken Fruit Tree Branches
Branches can break due to heavy fruit in any given season. Moreso, animals or people can accidentally damage the branches.
Either way, the broken branches need repair if possible to do so. If the branch has a severe break, it might be irreparable. Remove entire branches that have been affected by any disease.
Repairable tree branches are those that have broken all through the wood. You can tie the split using anything handy. Use rope, cable ties, budding tape, or string depending on the size and location of the split.
Have a look at this plant binding tape on Amazon.
Leave the bind on the fruit tree branch for a few months before it merges entirely. But remember to keep an eye on the branch to avoid the rope or tape getting too tight. Finally, thin the branch to reduce the fruit if the bind was successful.
How To Choose Fruit Trees For Your Locality
Different fruit trees fair differently in other climatic regions. Whether you want an orchid or a few random trees in your yard, you should know which fruit trees will survive in your vicinity.
These are the factors you must countercheck for any specific variety of the fruit tree you choose.
- The fruit tree rootstock size. These are different sizes of trees that can be grown in the garden or in containers.
- Find out if you need a pollinator for your fruit trees. Alternatively, choose fruit trees that don't need other trees for pollination if you have limited space in your garden.
- All locality has diseases that affect fruit trees, causing them not to bear fruits. Therefore, pick varieties resistant to most diseases for more accessible care.
- Each fruit tree has chill hours it can handle and still bloom on time. Bear this in mind when choosing any fruit tree variety if you don't want your fruit tree to bloom at the wrong time.
With proper soil drainage and enough natural light, fruit trees grow healthy.
We have clarified in this post why you need to bend fruit branches if it has never been clear prior. Once you do it correctly, you will have more healthy fruit.
Ideally, bend and prune tree branches simultaneously. This way, you get rid of all sick and frail branches, increase light around the branches, and the fruit tree is a manageable size.
If you have found some inspiration for fruit tree planting, here are more posts to point you in the right direction.
How Deep Should A Fruit Tree Be Planted?
15 Fruit Trees With Non-Invasive Roots
11 Great Fruit Trees For Zone 5
The best way to mend broken branches in fruit trees
by Katie | Feb 12, 2021 | 24 comments
In our long career growing and picking fruit, we’ve frequently come across broken branches in our fruit trees.
The broken branch in this Granny Smith apple tree (above) is a case in point. Here’s another one in an apricot tree…Broken branches in an apricot tree due to leaving too much fruit on the branch
This should never happen. Managing the fruit load on your fruit trees (mainly with thinning) should only ever leave as much fruit as the branch can safely hold without breaking.
Clearly, how much fruit is allowed to grow on any particular branch is not something you can just leave up to the tree. Fruit trees will regularly set more fruit than their branches can carry. This is even more true if they’ve been allowed to fall into a “biennial bearing” pattern, where they have a heavy crop one year followed by a very light crop the year after.
Branches can break for other reasons of course. Our farm borders a Regional Park with a large kangaroo population, so one of the common causes at our place is clumsy kangaroos.A broken limb on a fruit tree caused by a passing kangaroo
Misadventure with equipment, other animals, storms, or disease can also cause breaks.
Can broken branches be repaired?
Once the damage is done, the next question is “can it be repaired?” We’re often asked whether broken branches should just be removed completely.
Well, it depends.
If the break has gone all or most of the way through the wood (like the apricot branch at the top) then the answer is yes. Similarly, if the break has been caused by disease and the branch no longer has any healthy wood inside, then the best thing to do is make a neat pruning cut to remove the broken branch.
Remember, the first rule of pruning is “remove all dead and diseased wood”.
However if there’s still enough healthy and green wood on both sides of the split that can be brought back together, it’s worth trying a repair.
How to do the repair
- Remove any fruit that’s on the branch.
- Bring the two pieces back together, and make sure you can get a really good union between the two sides.
- Tie or tape the pieces very firmly together.
It doesn’t really matter what you use to tie the two sides together. In the example above the split was on a fairly small branch. Some budding tape was handy in the pocket, so that’s what was used!
For a bigger split, for example in the trunk of a tree, you’ll need a more heavy duty solution. Cable ties are great for this purpose because you can pull the two sides very tightly together.Broken fruit tree trunk repaired with cable ties
You may also need to support the break with some rope or hayband (baling twine) while it repairs itself.A broken limb supported with baling twine while it heals
Leave the bindings in place to heal for at least a few months. Check back next spring to see whether the repair worked. If not, then it probably makes sense to remove the branch.
If your repair was successful thin the fruit on that limb extra hard next spring. The last thing you want to do to a new repair is put it under too much load.
Remove whatever you used to bind the break before it gets too tight. Keep an eye on the limb and supply extra support if necessary next season to make sure it doesn’t break again.
Prevention is better than cure
Taking enough fruit off the branches to prevent these breaks in the first place can be very difficult. It feels awfully destructive to throw all that fruit on the ground. But it really is one of the best ways to protect the structure of your tree.
Even though summer is usually when the damage shows up, spring is the time to prevent it by thinning. If you’re not sure about how to gauge how much fruit to remove, please check out our short course Fruit Tree Thinning.
We make chatals (supports) for fruit trees
The harvest of large, ripe and full of juice apples, pears, plums is the dream of every gardener! The dense, shiny sides of ripening fruits are pleasing to the eye, and the branches, bending under the weight of pouring fruits, clearly need support - the tree needs help! It is better to prepare supports (chatals) in advance so as not to miss the moment when the branch heavy with fruits breaks off.
1. Take a wooden pole at least 2 m high, pointed at the base. Make a notch at the top. Its depth should be such that the branch fits snugly in it and does not jump out during the wind. It is necessary to dig in such a chatala away from the base of the branch, in the conditional center of gravity, if possible vertically. A piece of rubber, matting, dry grass should be placed on the fork. Supports are installed along the periphery of the crown, around the tree. For greater stability, all vertically placed chatals at a height of 1.5 m from the ground are tied with twine to transverse (horizontal) poles.
2. On both sides of the trunk, at a distance of 50 cm, dig in two supports, the ends of which are first wrapped with roofing material, and the poles themselves are fastened together with planks (like a ladder). Tie branches with rope or wire to vertical posts. In order not to damage the bark, put a rubber pad (you can use old tires, cut into pieces of 10 cm) at the place where the rope is attached. Such a support will not interfere with the processing of the near-stem circle of a tree, in contrast to the first design.
3. Near each trunk, dig a bar (or a pipe) - a support mast 0. 5 m higher than the tree trunk. It is necessary to fasten it to the tree from below and in the middle (lay burlap in places of crepe-singing).
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Tie as many ropes to the top edge as there are branches to support (the length of the rope corresponds to the distance from the top edge of the plank to the branch + 20 cm). You can attach a piece of wire or aluminum wire to the end of each piece of twine. Such tips in the form of hooks will allow you to quickly dismantle the support, and they can be used next year.
4. The structure described above can be completed with 2-3 tier hoops, depending on the height of the tree.
Rings require 6-8 mm wire. but you can make them from willow twigs. The supports are stakes made of reinforcing iron and pipes. To prevent branches from rubbing, pieces of used rubber hose are put on the racks. These props, resembling an umbrella, can also be left for the winter so that the branches do not break off under the weight of snow.
See also: Garden maintenance - questions and answers
After harvesting the fruits, the chatals are removed, disinfected with a 5% solution of iron sulphate, and stored for winter storage.
Note to the gardener:
In addition to the supports or alternatively, the branches can be tied to the trunk or pulled together with a thick metal wire with a collar. This is especially important for trees with sharp angles of branching from the trunk.
In dwarf and semi-dwarf gardens, where the crowns are small and the tree density is high, branches are tied to neighboring ones to prevent breakage. For trees growing along a row, the branches of neighboring trees serve as a support.
If you have trees planted in a row, you can install poles at a distance of 18-20 cm from each other and stretch a wire between them at a height of 1-1.2 m from the ground surface, on which to direct the branches.
First, the supports are placed (especially in places poorly protected from the wind) under the upper, and then under the lower branches of those trees that bear fruit earlier, as well as fragile wood (for example, pear).
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How to make supports for an apple tree with your own hands: purpose and varieties
- Why prop up an apple tree
- Types of supports for apple trees with your own hands
- Stand with a horn
- Umbrella chatalovka
- supports in the form of a staircase
- Telescopic support
- T-shaped background
- Metal support for apple trees
- How to strengthen branches from rings
- Protective rings from rings
- Skeler and colum
- How to pick up a fallen apple tree
The most active vegetation of plants falls on the summer period. Therefore, it is necessary not only to carry out regular watering and pest control, but also to provide physical support to trees and shrubs. In order for the branches to withstand the weight of the fruit, it is necessary to organize supports for them. How to tie up an apple tree so that branches do not break off is the main question for any gardener.
Why prop up an apple tree
Supports protect the integrity of the tree and help preserve the harvest
A mature apple tree has spreading branches and abundant fruit. At the end of summer, when apples are pouring, the tree has a particularly difficult time - the weight of the fruit becomes maximum and the branches stretch down. Under severe stress, they can crack and break. In this case, the plant needs external help, namely a chatalovka or the installation of a strong support for the crown. Thus, the retaining mechanism provides:
- Preservation of the existing crop.
- Long life to the main branches, as well as young branches that are in the process of active vegetation.
- Integrity and stability of the apple tree trunk.
- Essential support for growing seedlings.
Important! The support for the apple tree must be installed in time. This is the period when the apples have already begun to actively ripen, but have not yet had time to strongly bend the branches.
DIY props for apple trees
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Supports for apple trees are made from almost any available materials - boards and sticks, rods and pipes. The following designs are the most common.
Stand with stalk
The simplest do-it-yourself props for apple trees are made in the form of a stalk - a long stick with a forked end. Important in this design is the angular distance between the teeth of the slingshot. So, too small a Y-angle will squeeze the branch, interfering with its nutrition and growth. Rogatin can be found in the forest zone or crafted personally. In the second option, you need to take a long and fairly thick wooden board (stick), nail another blank to it perpendicularly - you should get a structure resembling the letter T. The top of the product is leveled and wrapped with a cloth to create additional comfort for the apple tree. The lower end is stuck into the ground, it is better to sharpen it beforehand.
Advantages of this support:
- Can be made quickly.
- Easy to place on the desired part of the apple tree and remove when winter comes.
- Instability: gusts of wind or careless movements can drop it. Often gardeners use 2-3 additional poles to secure the main body.
- The fragility of wooden products. To prolong their service life, it is necessary to cover the support with a moisture-proof solution.
Materials and tools needed:
- Long stick of high strength.
- Thick rubber (e.g. from a hose or tire).
- Steel wire (rope).
- Metal ring.
- Knife (hacksaw).
Tree poles differ in appearance and design features
Initially, a pole is installed a little higher than a plant, it is dug into the ground next to the apple tree. Wire threads are attached to the pole, and rubber clamps must be tied to them - a kind of lining for the bark. Clamps are brought under the shoots and attached to the main structure by means of rings. Accordingly, the number of garters should be equal to the number of branches that need support.
Advantages of such a "carousel":
- Safety for the plant.
- Robust design and durability: it is not necessary to remove the umbrella cover when frost sets in.
- Protection of branches not only from the fruit load, but also from bad weather - winds and snowfall.
The only shortcomings are the length of the manufacturing process and the need for additional help from a partner.
Important! On the central frame, the load must have the correct distribution - uniform.
Supports in the form of a ladder
A bookcase or ladder consists of wooden poles placed in the shape of an L symbol at a distance of 0. 5 meters from the base of the apple tree. Planks are placed horizontally between the sticks to hold them together. The ends of these stakes are driven into the ground by 10-12 cm, while the branches can be supported with a soft wire. Sometimes the design is complicated by additional poles that are brought in from different sides of the tree.
This ladder system can strengthen the overgrown branches of a mature plant, as well as enclose a young apple tree. The ladder is usually used temporarily, it is substituted under overloaded areas, it folds easily. It is also capable of acting as a stand while picking apples.
Optional. All wooden supports must be disinfected and dried before wintering.
Individual support can be made for each seedling separately
Telescopic support usually uses plastic tubes of different diameters. They are inserted into each other, holes about a centimeter in diameter are made in them to regulate the height of the apple support. Then bolts are placed in the punctures, fixed there. You also need to purchase plastic panels, warm them up a little and bend them manually in the form of a C sign. These boards are fixed at the ends of the tubes from the outside. It is recommended to glue the inside with a soft cloth.
Alternatively, a hollow profile is used to make this type of device. Dural tubes are connected to each other according to the nesting doll scheme: a small one (a hole of half an inch) is inserted into the large one, about an inch in diameter, the latter has steel hooks at the end. To obtain a support of the desired length, the profile tubes are moved apart and fixed with wedges driven into the prepared holes.
The next type of support is similar to a stalk - they need to be made by connecting 2 boards so that the letter T is obtained. After that, the support is placed in the right place near the apple tree under the heaviest branch. In this case, the rod is located vertically, the base is buried in the ground, and the branch is fixed on the upper horizontal axis.
If there is an abundance of apples and one stick is clearly not enough to support the apple tree, put 2-3 more structures. Thus, the strongest supports are created in the form of pyramids with 4 corners. The device is made from 2 wooden trapezoids placed on opposite sides of each other. Between the lower ends of the frames leave approximately the same distance, the upper edges must be tilted towards the center. All parts of the pyramid are securely fixed.
Metal supports for apple trees
Metal supports can be of any shape specified in the article. Metal elements can be supplemented with plastic or wooden elements. So, if you choose a telescopic support, you can use tubes of different sizes. The process of their installation is quite simple: a hole is drilled at the ends of the parts, a thin pipe is inserted into a wide one, and the structure is fixed with a screw or nail. Attach a rubber gasket on top. The support is first placed on the high branches, then on those below.
Supports can be made by hand and installed without the help of specialists
- Ability to support large and heavily loaded branches.
- The pole will withstand all kinds of weather, but will rust over time in high humidity.
- Quality metal is usually expensive.
Important! Any stand should be reliable and durable. Therefore, before installation, it is necessary to check whether it can withstand the weight of a particular tree.
How to strengthen branches from splits
Experts do not recommend waiting for the critical moment, when the branches are already beginning to break off, in order to start tying. You need to protect them from splitting in advance.
Protective rings against splitting
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To prevent the branches from cracking and eventually breaking off, the most vulnerable areas are closed in special rings. They are made of iron or steel and tightened with self-tapping screws and bolts. From the inside, the hoop is glued with a soft cloth, covered with a tourniquet, and then screwed to the tree trunk. The branches are strengthened by this method in early spring, until the buds have blossomed.
Branch arch supports
Canopy arch supports are made of rubber, such as tractor tires or bicycle tubes, depending on the size and weight of the branches. Cut them with a hacksaw into pieces and apply to the branches. Holes are made in the material with a sharp nail and arcuate wire of high strength is inserted. The arc angle is in the range of 35-55 degrees.
Trellis and ring or rim
Trellis traditionally used for dwarf apple varieties. The structure is made of wire, which is fixed with its ends to poles or a metal device. To fix the branches on the lattice, use twine, plastic fasteners or a ready-made bicycle rim. If the tree has grown strongly, it is additionally required to make an iron ring with 5 internal knitting needles. The hoop is attached to 4 poles, which can be made from tubes. The columns are wrapped with household fabric, agrofibre.
It is very beneficial to tie the plant on a trellis, as it solves many difficulties:
- Prevents thickening of the crown.
- Supports shoots and branches to prevent breakage and splitting.
- Increases the resistance of branches to various weather conditions, as well as fairly heavy rains and winds in the summer.
- Positively affects the quantity and quality of apples.
Optional. Before use, the trellis must be painted with an oil-based agent.
Garters or supports are used both for the trunk of a tree and separately for branches
How to lift a fallen apple tree
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Gardeners may have not only the problem of how to support the branches of an apple tree with apples, but and the problem with lifting an already fallen tree. This is a fairly common occurrence after severe bad weather. Before taking active steps to raise a tree, a number of factors must be considered:
- The age of the apple tree: could it break not only because of weather conditions, but also due to old age.
- Place of breakage: how much the stem part was damaged, what condition the bole is in.
- Fruit maturity: are there many green apples on the branches and is it possible to leave the tree in its current position so that the fruits ripen.
- Statute of limitations for plant fall.
Young trees have more prospects for recovery. If the planting is only partially broken, there is a high chance of saving the crop. It is required to collect apples and support the leaning plant. A more difficult case, when the apple tree fell completely and the roots were pulled out of the soil. Then the owner needs as soon as possible:
- Raise the tree and tie or support it. How to tie up an apple tree - described above.
- Next, assess the condition of the trunk and the root part: cover up the uprooted areas with fertilized soil to the top.
- Place a fence around the area to keep out animals and rain.
- Regularly water the problem area of the apple tree, feed plentifully. You can use fertilizers that are usually chosen to feed the seedlings.
- If the result is positive, the tree began to grow actively, the apple tree remains in its current, more horizontal position.
With the help of props, you can support the tree, and also lift it if it is broken. Unfortunately, in another situation, for example, if the incident happened some time ago or more than half the diameter of the trunk was initially affected, the described actions will not have any effect. Apples can no longer be saved, but you can try to restore the tree in the following way:
- Cut off loose part.
- Coat the wounds with drying oil minium.
- Take remedial action to revitalize remaining intact branches.