Just as a reminder, this is the third installment in a series of blog posts I've written about the Gasquet Orchard Training (formerly Pruning) Workshop. You can read the other posts here and here. And I would like to sincerely thank Deborah Giraud from the UC Cooperative Extension for making the drive up from Eureka and braving the rain with us to teach us such a useful skillset.
|Before heading and trimming|
|After heading and trimming|
The basic options you have for arrangement are central leader, open center, and y-shaped.
- Central Leader might be the most recognizable, as it most resembles basic "tree" structure. You have a strong, predominant trunk with your scaffolding limbs (branches) evenly distributed around around the trunk.
- Open Center is an effective arrangment for having even sunlight distribution coming to the tree. There is no central leader, and instead has 3 or 4 main scaffold limbs that are (in theory) evenly spaced apart around the trunk. This method also makes future pruning and harvesting very easy since the trees don't grow as tall.
- Y-Shape: similar to the open center except you leave only two primary scaffolds. This is a good way to utilize space in an orchard, if you train the "Y" to be perpendicular to your row of trees.
Another technique used in controlling your trees' arrangment, beyond just properly training with the right cuts, is to use spacers between your scaffolds. If you are trying to create an open center tree but your scaffolds are too close together, or if the angle is too tight and the scaffold gets too close to the leader, you can wedge something between them in order to get the shape you want. We used this technique on a few of our trees, including this one which we want to be an open center:
We ended up getting all 24 of the fruit trees trained in well under 2 hours, which really went by in a flash, despite the rain. You may have noticed at the top of today's post, I called this event the "first annual" Gasquet Orchard Training Workshop. That's because we intend to continue with this event each year to make sure they properly develop; one of the most important lessons we learned is that fruit trees need to be maintained and observed every season to ensure a healthy tree. Continuing the tradition each year will also open up the possibility of learning new things. This entire workshop centered around how to train first-year trees, but the practice of pruning fully mature fruit trees is a whole other set of skills and knowledge. We'll carry on with the orchard and make sure that it develops right. Hope you can make it next year!