I hate a glaring gap, an empty space on a fruit tree where a branch should be … needs to be! Here’s a simple, old school trick to stimulate a bit of branching out.
Choose a lovely fat bud in the locale of the wished for branch. Using something sharp take a slice out of the bark, above the bud. Above being important, if a branch is what you are wanting. It’ll put a stop to the flow of life juice, the hormones will gather (not something we usually celebrate) and shoot out a branch for you. Or rather it may shoot out a branch for you. Because we all know that playing with nature has no guarantees. I have (to reassure you) had good success with this, winning more than loosing. The loosing comes from older trees who, it would seem, aren’t interested in branching out, but don’t let this stop you trying.
I have seen a rasp used to rub into the bark (ouch), a hacksaw, a knife – I use my seceteurs. Your slice needs to go halfway round the trunk. For what I hope are obvious reasons, don’t go the whole way.
Best done about a month before buds open, which for apples and pears is right about now.
And here is the branch that sprang from that notch. See how the notch has healed and the bud – galvanised into action by the gathering of hormones – has become a branch.
Come spring I’ll tie it down and hey presto – a bonafide fruit producing branch fills the gap.
Such a good trick to have up your pruning sleeve.
If cutting into your tree feels scary, dig deep and find your courage. On my notching instruction you can have faith – it works well. Trust me. Try it out.