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My first year espalier apple tree has a good strong vertical and one strong lateral, but the other lateral never developed at all. So the espalier has only one lateral branch. Should I cut it all back to a whip and start again, or is the undeveloped lateral likely to grow well next year? Any advice would be much appreciated.

Peter, post a picture

so you have a vertical and a horizontal branch?  You shouldnt have any single horizontal branches so how did that happen?  I think you didnt allow for any vertical wood beyond the lateral shoots

a picture would help but right now it may well be better to cut the lateral out and reduce the vertical..  really you should have 3 branches now... 1 vertical and 2 oblique ? 


You've got the makings so I'd look for a new bud close to the first lateral and allow it to develop. Meanwhile, concentrate on your next level, the next two laterals.  Trouble is, the tree will want to put its effort into the upper levels so it may take a few years for a new lateral to develop to useful proportions lower down.  If you do start again by cutting the tree and forcing it to branch out, you'll be a couple of years away from anything useful.  Bare-root, they're readily available from late November onwards. Cheaper that way, too. 



Disagree there.  Concentrate on the first level Peter.   

can you raise the left lateral to 45 degrees and lower the vertical to just less than 45 if possible and train a new vertical from as near as possible to the centre?  It should work Peter.

the aim is to create one tier at a time from the BOTTOM up.  

You can have fun with training branches...remember the golden rule:  vertical branches for growth and horizontal for fruit.  By lowering the vertical ....eventually by summer's horizontal you will encourage a vertical shoot (along with others that essentially want to produce fruiting spurs)  so choose this or the strongest most central one for your leader.  

Thereafter, 3 shoots....2 laterals and one vertical for every year and every tier.

have fun!  Don't be afraid.  Bet your tree will look more like it by next August 

Last edited: 01 October 2016 11:32:20

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