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about things that interest me.

Pruning

Pruning for the next Years crop

Unpruned Fig Tree

 Pruning a fig tree

This is a Desert King Fig. A type of white canning/fresh eating fig, very fast grower and good producer. Figs like heavy clay soil and some water for best production. This 15 year old tree really likes it here. Fig trees are started from suckers that sprout from the roots. I have cloned near a hundred trees from this one, and they start producing fruit in 3 to 4 years! Great gift for anyone with the space.  Great shade and fruit but very messy and draws birds. I cover it with a bird net in the early summer to protect the crop from birds. Then that must be replaced every year if you want fruit to enjoy and share. Because this is a fast grower it needs heavy pruning every winter, lots of brush to deal with! Other varieties grow much less but are slower to produce and produce less fruit. As they are slower they are later in the season to produce for an extended season.

Pruned Fig Tree

A pruned fig tree

For the production of fruit that can be easily harvested the fruiting area must be held down near the ground. As this is also a shade tree some compromise must be reached, In this case I want fruit 6 feet to 12 feet above the ground. Many fig trees produce 2 crops per year. The first, at bud points on last years growth in the early summer and the second, on the new growth in the late summer.  So there must be a method to your pruning. Every year I need to push the growth point down because it progresses up with every years growth. Every winter pruning starts with cutting the top down to the needed height and then thinning out the interior to achieve the needed effect.  Meanwhile keeping in mind the need to force new growth down lower for later years renewal.

Close up of pruned branches

Fig pruning

If you look closely ( click on images ) there is old wood that is grey,  and there is wood that is olive drab or gray green, that is last years wood and I leave 2 to 4 bud points for the early summer fig crop as well as a base for the next years growth. All other interior growth is cut away to thin growth points. You must remember not to get greedy, too many fruiting points will result in small fruit of poor quality. Too heavy pruning will result in heavy regrowth and little fruit. Fig trees are like apple trees You can’t kill them with too heavy pruning. So if you need to reclaim an old tree go for it, severely reshape the tree, it will reward you the second year.

Trellised Grapes

Grape vineyard

Every year the grape vines must be cut back to the main growth arms to restore the balance between roots and vines. Remember grape vines can grow themselves to death. and too heavy fruiting will result in small poor quality fruit. There are many different styles of staking and trellising the main trunk of a grape vine but the pruning follows two styles, One for wine and one for table fruit. This will depend on the variety used. These are wine varieties and are fixed to a 3 wire fence trellis with plants every 4.5 feet.

Pruned Grapes on Trellis

The rows are pairs 4feet apart with 8feet between pairs. For wine production the plants are heavily cut back to a few buds that will grow into canes with a few bunches per cane. Wine grape vines produce grape bunches on the 1st, 2ed, 3rd node points of the new canes and you want a bunch per foot of trellis.

For eating grapes, they produce fruiting canes from the 1st, 2ed, 3rd cane nodes and fruit bunches from the 3,4&5 nodes so they must be pruned to canes and buds. Canes for this years fruiting and buds for next years canes.  My eating grapes are grown on an overhead trellis.

To the left in this picture is an espaliered row of figs pruned low for handy fruit along the road way between the vineyard and the kitchen garden.  pg

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7 responses to “Pruning

  1. P.G. Sharrow February 16, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    This is the month to finish the pruning. I hope that this information may be of some use. pg

  2. Ralph B February 23, 2012 at 6:23 am

    I can vouch for what you say about apple trees. I don’t know a whole lot about pruning and started out on apples…didn’t kill a single one. Peaches…different story. I have several orange and grapefruit trees at my FL house learning on them as well. So far no deaths in the family. Thanks PG for sharing I know it is useful to me. I may see how well figs do in FL and the Philippines. Going to try my hand at cocoa as well (in the PI)

  3. P.G. Sharrow February 23, 2012 at 7:28 am

    @Ralph B; You are right there! heavy pruning of a stone fruit tree will scare them to death. I would say cutting 20% is the max you can remove, 10% is safer. In my experience citrus are also very tough, although they don’t care for frost and 2 years crop are always on a tree at one time. Citrus can be pruned as you can get to them. Most fruit trees and vines should be pruned before growth starts in the spring.
    I don’t know anything about Cocoa but the PI’s are a neat place and you can get real tree ripe Mangoes if you can beat the monkeys to them 🙂 very delicious! as well as papaya. Enjoy. Oh yes! real San Maguil beer. pg

  4. Ralph B February 23, 2012 at 8:06 am

    I would post a picture looking out from my terrace if I knew how. Have a house in central Luzon, you are right about the mangoes and papaya among so many other fruits. I was never an eggplant fan until I went there, the eggplants are long and skinny and so good. We have many plants in our garden (we have a couple acres with lots of room) more banana trees than you can shake a stick at. If ever you decide to visit let me know as long as you don’t mind listening to roosters crowing.

  5. P.G. Sharrow February 23, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    @Ralph B; The oriental eggplant, I grow them here, great, just grab them from the garden row and throw them on the barbee. I doubt that I will return to the Philippines, but, thanks for the offer. pg

  6. Ralph B February 26, 2012 at 2:59 am

    My wife takes the egg plant roasts it first then skins it and flattens it. After she has an egg, chilli pepper, garlic, and onion mix she dips it into. Wow…so very very good. I am lucky and have been introduced into all sorts of different foods and ways of cooking I would never have thought of.

    Back to pruning…I may have to see if a fig will grow in the PI. A few years ago in Rome I was introduced to fresh figs (fig newton was as far as I had been before) and loved them.

  7. P.G. Sharrow February 26, 2012 at 8:17 am

    @Hi Ralph: Figs should be no problem. Ficus, fig is a semi tropical plant, and Luzon is a sub-tropical area if I remember correctly, with little or no frost. The Italian Honey Fig “Latrilla” is a bit slow to grow but well worth the trouble. I have several here and it freezes. The best place to start is ask the locals, as they know what works best in their area. pg

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