Staggered Defoliation of Fuji Cherry

Posted by on May 7, 2016 | 3 Comments
Staggered Defoliation of Fuji Cherry

From time to time I like to test out techniques that are different from what I have been taught previously. Particularly with deciduous species where I am unfamiliar with the fine budding and growth characteristics it’s fun to push a healthy tree to see what it can do, or can’t do. With this cherry I had established it in this oversized box and am getting some long shoots.

I had already cut back the long shoots from last year over the winter. On April 13th, after the new shoots elongated for the spring, I defoliated all the leaves from the interior of the tree. But, at the same time I left the shoots on, with the strong tips still elongating and I wired the base of each shoot out as far as I would likely want to keep it. Then I set the tree back on the bench. I hypothesized that this would allow light in and cause budding in the area. My thinking was that a full cutback and full defoliation would potentially cause some of the branches to die. I believe this technique will prevent that problem.

April 13th, before working on the tree.   The shoots are stong and long.

April 13th, before working on the tree. The shoots are stong and long.

After pulling leaves at the base of the shoots.   Note the previous cut sites and the previously wired branching.    This is the second year I've worked on the branching of this tree.

After pulling leaves at the base of the shoots. Note the previous cut sites and the previously wired branching. This is the second year I’ve worked on the branching of this tree.

It’s interesting to note that I snapped three of these branches while bending them, I expected that one or two would die but all three continued growing despite being split.

On April 13th, after the first phase of the defoliation and wiring of the shoots.

On May 4th, only a few weeks later, the wire is already threatening to bite in and the movement in the branches has likely been set.

A few weeks later, on May 4th the wire is already threatening to bite in and the movement in the branches has likely been set.   I start by removing the wire taking care not to damage the swelling buds that are already emerging from the defoliated leaf nodes.

I start by removing the wire taking care not to damage the swelling buds that are already emerging from the defoliated leaf nodes.

After the second phase of the defoliation - trimming back the long shoots effectively finishes the job, now the emerging shoots will grow out again.

After the wire is removed the second phase of the defoliation doesn’t take long- trimming back the long shoots effectively finishes the job, now the emerging shoots will grow out again, hopefully without any branch dieback!

3 Comments

  1. Jim Gremel
    May 7, 2016

    Excellent – thanks!

  2. Judy Barto
    May 24, 2016

    How is this one doing since the defoliation and cutback?

    • Eric Schrader
      May 24, 2016

      I could snap a new photo for you later this week. Just looked at it yesterday and there are about a hundred buds coming out all over the place. I’ll update when I have more shoots to show in the photo.