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Pruning at planting

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Be prepared to develop good structure after planting if there are few nurseries that carry a particular species with suitable trunk and branch structure. This can begin when the tree is planted. When you see that pruning is needed to correct some trunk or branch defects on a recently planted tree, and you will not be able to prune the tree for several years, prune it at planting to correct the problem. If you wait, it may never be pruned correctly. Long-term health will be enhanced with improved structure. Example 1

Even small diameter (pencil size) stems that are the same size as the leader can occur in the top half of the crown on high-quality nursery stock. These could eventually develop into a group of codominant stems (as shown at right) if they are not pruned at planting. Some pruning at planting is almost always necessary because it is unreasonable to ask growers to prune every tree with one perfect single leader to the very top of the crown. Last but not least, always check roots at planting and prune to correct circling roots and other root defects that could impact future health.

Tree on the left was planted into the ground several years ago. Notice the small current-year stems at the very top of the tree. Photograph above shows the tree five years later with codominant stems growing from what was the top of the original nursery tree.

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