Are you eager to get out in the garden? Take advantage of some of these warmer days and walk through your garden, paying particular attention to your crabapple, apple, pear trees and other deciduous trees. Deciduous trees are ones that lose their leaves in the fall and at this time of the year it’s easy to see the tree’s structure, because there are no leaves.
You’re looking for obvious sign of winter damage such as broken branches and it’s also a good time to identify branches that crisscross, branches that point straight up or down or rubbing branches and obviously dead twigs and branches. Removing these branches will help open the center of the tree and improve air circulation within the canopy of the tree. Suckering branches will often appear at the base of crabapple trees. Sometimes called “water shoots”, the branches grow rapidly, usually straight up. These need to be removed also, by cutting the shoot as close to the base as possible. A product called Sucker Stopper can be applied during the growing season to help control suckering, without harming the tree. With crabapple, apple, pear trees we’re also looking for signs of fire blight. Fire blight gets its name from the burnt appearance of blossoms and branches. The flowers will turn brown and small branches and fruit will shrivel up and blacken. Fire blight is a bacterial disease, spread by wind, rain, snow or insect activity, in the spring. Left untreated, fire blight can destroy the tree. We had a lot of fire blight problems last spring, because of the wet weather and now’s the time to remove these branches, while the bacteria are dormant and less likely to spread. Another advantage of dormant pruning is you don’t have to disinfect your pruners between cuts, as you do during spring and summer pruning. For small branches, use a good pair of pruners, such as Felco®. For larger branches, use a good set of loppers or a saw. If you’re not sure what to use, stop in and see us. We’ll help you select the right tool.