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Dwarf Cherry Tree pruning/treating for insects

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
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by slredmond on October 17, 2005 08:30 AM
Have two questions - 1st, when should I prune (to shape) my young dwarf cherries. I believe they are 3-4 years old. Should I wait until spring before they flower, or should I prune now? Two of them (Bings) have a nice, full shape. The others, bought from a different nursery, are more straggly and upright.

2nd, what do I treat with, and when? I just planted this summer, and a couple of the trees had fruit, but they were very wormy.

Thanks!

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Sandy R.
by peppereater on October 18, 2005 10:53 PM
Gee whiz, Sandy, I noticed no one has resopnded to your post. I should have done so before. It's not like the folks here to let a question go unanswered.
Fruit trees should always be pruned in late winter. Cherries need very little pruning, unless you want to maintain a specific shape. Prune dead wood and undesireable growth first (branches that rub another branch or grow contrary to the prevailing growth). Then a little judicious pruning to reduce a little weight here and there.
The most beneficial thing to spray is dormant oil. Find it at a garden center, I've noticed that chain stores don't bother to stalk it. In early spring, make one application just as the buds begin to "break," that is, as the pink just starts to show through the outer skin of the buds. You could make one application earlier than this, but this one is most effective. I would think that where yo are, there should be plenty of roadside stands. Don't be shy about asking what sort of spray programs they use, but my attitude about pruning and spraying is "less is better." I don't like spraying chemicals on my food. The dormant oil is organic and safe. Also, don't take lower branches off until they start to get in the way of mowing, as they help the root system get established. Look into organic ways to fertilize, like mushroom compost, bone meal, blood meal, etc. These will make for healthier, more pest and disease resistant trees. Enjoy!
by slredmond on October 19, 2005 06:51 PM
Hi Peppereater-thanks for your advice. We have a pretty well-stocked farm bureau here, so I'll ask about the dormant oil. I was surprised we had cherries last year - the trees are so young. Then disappointed that they were just loaded with worms!

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Sandy R.

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