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Author Topic: Best Time to Drastically Cut Back a Crabapple  (Read 1915 times)
vincepbs
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« on: September 08, 2012, 12:43 PM »

I have a crabapple bonsai that is fairly well ramified. However, over the years it has become too wide and too tall for the diameter of the trunk. As such I want to cut it back drastically.

What is the best time of the year to do this to get the most new budding, after it goes dormant this Fall or in the Spring before the buds begin to open?
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0soyoung
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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2012, 02:21 PM »

I'm interested in the answer to your question.

Meanwhile, a principle that I am aware of is that pruning the terminal shoot during the active growing season is the best way to induce back budding. The principle is the terminal shoot is the primary auxin producer. Removing it causes a collapse in the auxin flow which releases buds closer to the trunk/roots (i.e., causes back budding). This is a spring/summer thing. However, I don't think this is the best time for drastic cut-back. Generally 'we' like to do this during dormancy if for no other reason than to avoid sappy messes.

So, I think this comes down to a variation on the theme of 'chasing back the foliage'. Terminal pruning to induce back buds in summer and then heavy pruning in the dormant season, keeping at least one new bud on branches you want to keep. This the way I would do it anyway. I think it is safe across all species but may very well be inefficient (timewise).
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vincepbs
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« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2012, 03:18 PM »

Thanks 0soyoung,

I agree with you that it is probably best to do the drastic cutting during dormancy. I'm just not sure whether it would be better during late Fall/early Winter or early Spring before any bud burst. My gut feeling would be very early Spring after the roots have had a chance to build the energy of the tree to its maximum point.

However, I would like to see what the preponderance of opinion is.

Thanks again.
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0soyoung
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« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2012, 04:28 PM »

Certain species like maples develop stem pressure in the heating/cooling of late winter / early spring and will gush sap when you prune just before bud break. Japanese Maples should be hard pruned before this, but after leaf drop, to avoid this trouble.

In fact, I think I would go so far as to say this is generally a good time frame for all deciduous because roots stop growing when the soil temperature is below 40F.
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