Pruning for problems

Over the last three years I’ve really let the Stanley plum tree get out of hand. It is normally a well-behaved, productive tree that doesn’t require a lot of urgent care. I have other trees that are real divas by comparison. Unfortunately it has been in close contact with the cherry tree which has a chronic case of black rot. I thought cutting down the big spruce at the front of the lot would help both trees overcome the disease, and perhaps it has, but they are still showing symptoms. We had a wet, cool spring and the plum tree put on a lot of new growth that began to show stress and damage as soon as the weather turned hot and dry.

As you can see, there are areas of the tree that have grown thick and dark and there is a great deal of vertical growth in the middle top section. Vertical branches are a problem on a fruit tree: the ripening fruit hangs against the branch and is easily damaged or loosened.

My priorities were to remove anything that had been affected by rot, open up the interior of the tree to sunlight, and save as many of this season’s plums while still making the tree MUCH smaller. I hate picking fruit from ladders. This is the result.

Below are the same photos side by side. Three days and a rainstorm later the tree is putting out new leaves and the remaining fruit is still developing. We’ll see what the rest of the season brings. .



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