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15 messages
18/08/2014 at 22:52

HI all

My plum tree has fruited heavily this year, and (even though I thinned the fruit following advice on here) in the last spell of wet and windy weather a couple of the major branches (and several more minor ones) bent right over and nearly snapped, so they're now hanging vertically down. I left them on to see if the fruit would ripen, and it has. But now as we enter the second half of August I am thinking I really need to sort the tree out, sacrificing any remaining fruit if necessary.

So I'm after major pruning/cutting back advice. A couple of the branches which need cutting off are approx 1-1.5 inches thick. And several smaller ones, of 1/2 to 1 inch.

I know about the desireability of pruning in summer to avoid silver leaf. Should I wait until we have a couple of dry days forecast before removing the branches, to give them a chance to heal before it rains? (Will that make any difference?) Or is there something I can put on the raw cut ends to protect them?

19/08/2014 at 06:08

I really wouldn't do it now - you'll really run the risk of them getting Silverleaf - the reason for doing it then is nothing to do with the weather - it's because the sap is rising then and that prevents the Silverleaf spores being taken into the plant.  From now on the sap is not rising and the spores can enter the plant tissue. 

I really would wait until next June - otherwise you risk losing your plum tree. 

19/08/2014 at 06:49

Well i never knew that !  At what point in the year does the sap "change direction"??  Always get confused about plum tree pruning so if I understand the reason for the rules better I have more chance of remembering them

19/08/2014 at 07:02

The leaves have all been grown for some time and the fruit has swelled - from now on the tree will begin to shut down operations, fruit will fall and leaves begin to change colour because the sap isn't rising any more.  

19/08/2014 at 08:30

Ooops I shaped mine last week! Do you think it will die now?  Didn't have many plums at all this year and was just getting huge!

19/08/2014 at 12:25

Don't panic - the problem with silverleaf is that it travels in moist air. As long as you pruned in a dry, warm period you have a very good chance of being fine.

19/08/2014 at 16:28
I think I'll have to have a go; there's some exposed wood anyway on the torn branches so spores could get in anyway. How close does a diseased tree have to be for spores to travel and infect a good tree?
19/08/2014 at 16:32
RHS site says silverleaf infectious spores are only active between Sept and May so we might be Ok Beaus Mum!
19/08/2014 at 16:35

Thank you everyone, just had a look this morning and leaves look healthy and green so might be ok 

Hope yours will be too catsmother 

19/08/2014 at 18:02

It's entirely up to you of course, but I wouldn't risk it - especially in a season like this, where autumn is coming early and the incidence of fungal and bacterial infections etc is high. 

19/08/2014 at 22:56

But as I say the wood is already exposed where the branches are torn so I'm damned either way?

20/08/2014 at 06:20

  I hadn't realised that the branches were torn.  What a shame.  Is it a Victoria plum?  Ours used to bear very heavily - I used a collection of wooden props to hold the branches up when they got heavy. 

21/08/2014 at 14:59
Well as it was sunny and warm I went for it and bought/used some wound heal too (which was suggested on a couple of sites). Salvaged about 5kilos of plums from the cut branches!
I think it's a Victoria Plum. I'll just have to thin the fruit even more next year (if it survives) as props are out of the question owing to rambunctious dogs!
21/08/2014 at 16:01

You could suspend heavy branches from a central pole, lashed along the trunk if necessary.

Also worth (although I didn't bother this year and am now paying the price) thinning the fruit in high summer (late June probably) to leave one every couple of inches.  This should give a smaller number of larger plums, same total weight but fewer stones, which is good for both the tree and the cook.

22/08/2014 at 18:31

Just bought a plum tree and have it in a large pot I do not want it to grow too tall can I take the top of so that it will bush outward

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