Monday, April 1, 2013

Remove and Prevent Suckers

Suckers are branches that grow from below the graft union of your tree and you've probably noticed that they like to multiply every year!

Sucker in a Young Pear Tree
Suckers on a Young Pear Tree

The truth is, they do multiply every time you cut them! A nice clean cut with sharp pruning shears at ground level will leave behind some nodes below ground level. Without the terminal bud of the branch you just removed, the remaining nodes below ground will all start to elongate and compete for any available light passing through the canopy.

So how do you prevent them from getting worse? Don't cut them! Yes, they do need to be removed, but break them off or pull them in the spring while they are still soft and herbaceous. If they are too large to break or pull, make sure you cut them at a really sharp angle rather than flat. This will increase the surface area of the cut and cause the branch to dry up, minimizing the chance of the suckers branching into multiple suckers the following year.

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Cutting Suckers Adds to the Proliferation
Cutting Suckers Adds to the Proliferation

For more information about suckers, and how to prevent them watch the video below.

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