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Too late to prune plum tree north UK?

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  • Too late to prune plum tree north UK?

    I have a plum tree with way too many fruit so subsequently individual fruits are of lower quality.
    There is risk of a branch or two tearing.
    I never knew the tree was there when I took over the garden - it was just twigs - so there wasn't good formative pruning done on the tree. There is a narrow angle scaffold with included bark, no distinct leader.

    Too late to prune?
    Could I take out something major?
    When is Silverleaf a risk?
    .

  • #2
    Up north, it may well be too late to take the risk at this point, especially if you were planning to cut into wood older than this year's. I wouldn't prune this late unless not doing so could be more harmful (like cleaning up a torn branch).

    I would also question whether it necessarily needs much pruning. Plums require very little pruning, and can largely be left to their own devices. If you are getting too many fruit then the solution is thinning those fruit, not pruning.

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    • #3
      I'd say taking out anything now up to about a thumb's width in diameter is safe enough, as long as there are green leaves on the tree. Personally I would never prune large branches out of a plum unless they were diseased or broken - too risky.

      If a large V-crotch has formed in the tree then there is obviously a risk it will split, especially under a heavy weight of crop or snow. Various means of support are possible from a simple stick propping it up from below, to some sort of rope tied between branches to make the third side of the triangle of the V as it were. Any rope or whatever should never go more than halfway round a branch or trunk and needs checking to make sure its not cutting in to the bark. A section of old bike tire can come in handy to use between the rope and the bark.

      As an aside, thinning small green immature fruit is one of the most tedious jobs in the fruit garden, but it can pay big dividends in terms both of getting larger and better quality fruit and also preventing biennial cropping.

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      • #4
        Thin the plums,they must be full size,it will help lose the weight on the branches. June’s the best time for pruning plum trees. My Victoria plum couldn’t take the weight & split years ago,I didnt notice the split in the middle of the trunk at first,I just saw that the plums all ripened surprisingly quickly,then found the split,then cut through the branch & saw the stained middle of the wood,the whole tree affected,it was really sad I dug it out. Worth giving a good thinning to save the branches,can it be trained onto extra trellis or wire temporarily?

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        • #5
          Thanks. I'll tag what I can now to preferably keep and leave it to May. If I lose it I lose it but I'm more informed on formative pruning.
          I messed up my year planner.

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          • #6
            Safe to prune plum trees so long as the sap is still rising so that is before leaf fall.

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