Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Monthly Archives: April 2019

Video: A pear tree in bad condition

Dan takes a look at a 7-year old pear tree that is showing evident signs of distress. Trees react to the treatment that you give them. In this specimen, there is very little fruit bud, and the new shoots are very thin. The problem is caused by the competition of grass and stinging nettles. To take action, a square metre around the tree has to be cleared of grass and nettles, best done by covering the area with mulch that will smother the weeds. Secondly, the tree centre should be opened up so that light can get back into the centre. Thirdly, give the tree some extra food, namely extra water, and farmyard manure if possible. Trees are like people: people can survive for quite a long time without food, but trees and people cannot survive long without water. Here you can see a combination: the tree didn’t get enough water because of the enormous competition with the nettles, and on top of that it didn’t get any food whatsoever. Yet pears are by nature very strong-growing trees.

Video: Pruning a mature apple tree

Dan Neuteboom demonstrates how to prune a 50-year old Bramley tree. It is a tree that already has a good open structure, with plenty of fruit bud. All that has to be done when pruning the tree is to maintain the quality of the light reaching the centre of the tree. This means removing the upright shoots which will create a lot of shade once they have leaves on them. Dan is careful to leave the short twigs bearing fruit bud which are ideal for cropping.

Video: How to shape a young tree without pruning

A young trees doesn’t crop because of pruning, it crops in spite of pruning. In its early years, the ideal pyramid shape can be achieved by selecting a central leader, and using string, clothes pegs and spacers to bend down the branches that will form the main table, the base of the pyramid. Click to watch.

Video: William Seabrook demonstrates whip & tongue grafting, and rind grafting

In this video, William Seabrook provides a close-up demonstration of whip & tongue grafting, on a fifteen-year old tree that will be changed to a different variety. In the first section, he explains exactly how to make the cuts in the tree and the scion to ensure that the graft is successful. The double cut enables optimum contact between the vascular cambium tissues of the two parts and holds the scion firmly in place, ready to be securely fastened with the sealing tape and grafting wax. Callousing will appear within three to four weeks.

The rind graft method is used to create a graft on a larger piece of timber. The first diagonal cut is followed by a short cut at the end of the scion to create a point, and then another cut that creates a 90-degree angle in the cambium tissue. The bark of the parent branch is cut for a length corresponding to the scion, and then the knife is used to lift the bark. The scion is then inserted so that the right-angled surfaces come into contact with the corresponding surfaces in the branch. The graft is finished in the usual manner, with sealing tape, and then grafting wax is applied to seal the cut surfaces to prevent the entry of air or rain. The grafting wax should be applied generously because the rising sap has a tendency to push out from the cut surfaces. Click to watch.

Video: Making a fruit tree – whip & tongue grafting, tools and technique

Nurseryman William Seabrook demonstrates the tools and techniques involved in whip & tongue grafting, which is a method of uniting a scion of the desired variety to the rootstock. To make the graft, the right tools are essential: sealing tape, secateurs, a specialist sharp knife, the wax, and the large cutter used to prepare the rootstock. William Seabrook demonstrates how to cut the scion, with double cuts – a first diagonal cut and a second tongue cut – in both scion and rootstock, which interlock so that the vascular cambium along the cut surfaces is as great as possible, for optimum cambial contact. The diagonal cut in the scion is made so that the bud ends up directly over the cut of the stock. This helps keep the tree straight. The graft is secured using sealing tape tied tightly, and then the cut surfaces are coated in grafting wax to keep air, rain and infection out. Click to watch.

Video: Pruning pear trees – how to tell the difference between fruit bud and wood bud

Dan Neuteboom describes the difference between fruit bud and wood bud on a pear tree. It is important to recognise the difference so that when pruning, you leave the fruit buds in position to ensure a good crop.

It can be difficult to get pear trees into production early. Pears tend to form fruit bud later than on apple trees. How do you prune the tree if you are not sure which is fruit bud, and which is wood bud? It’s best to delay pruning until the moment that you can easily see the difference. From mid-March to early April, you can see that the fruit buds are large and round, while wood buds remain smaller and more pointed. So it’s best to wait until this time to prune the tree. You can cut away the shoots that are filling up the tree, leaving the shoots with fruit bud and ensuring that they have maximum exposure to light. Click to watch.