pruning cherry trees

Asked May 19, 2016, 5:17 PM EDT

My cherry trees are entering their 3rd year of growth and there are several stems growing out of the ground but there does not seem to be a main stem. I have read that they need to be pruned to one main stem. How should I proceed with pruning and should I wait until fall or next spring?

Douglas County Wisconsin fruit trees cherry trees

1 Response

The important first step is to determine which of the stems is the actual fruit variety. Fruit trees are generally budded or grafted in the nursery so that the top is the fruit variety such as Montmorency or Hedelfingen and the root is mahaleb or mazzard. The rootstock, if allowed to develop a stems and flower will produce fruit of inferior quality.

The first picture shows the swollen graft union area. The orange line indicates the division between the top variety and the rootstock. The yellow arrow points to the top variety, also called the scion. The various green sprouts are from the rootstock. These sprouts should be removed. If they have been there several years they may have brown bark. Again, look for the graft union and determine which is the true scion.

It is possible the scion has died and the only thing left are the root sprouts (root suckers). If this is the case, there is not much point in keeping the tree.