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Supporting fruit trees: How to support heavy branches of fruit-bearing trees and prevent breakage?

It is very satisfying to grow fruit in your own garden. But when the trees are large enough and bear large amounts of fruit, whether plums, peaches, apples, nectarines or lemons, one of your biggest concerns is how to make sure the branch doesn’t overload and break under the weight of the fruit. There are a few things you can do to solve this problem. Find out how to support your fruit trees in our article!

Preventing the branches from sagging and breaking

Support fruit trees - Support heavy branches of fruit-bearing trees and prevent them from breaking

When fruits like peaches, apples and plums increase in size and weight, the branches of the tree they are growing on can bend, sag and even break. There are several ways to prevent this from happening: Pruning the tree in late winter, thinning the fruit in spring, or adding supports for the branches. The type and size of the tree, as well as the style of your orchard, play an important role.

Pruning is the most effective way to support heavy, fruit-bearing branches

  • Prune your trees before bud break in early spring. This is the most effective way to support the heavy, fruit-bearing branches. Generally, prune trees to leave the centers open and the fruit-bearing branches short.
  • Prune out the fruit before it gets too big. A flower-bearing tree is beautiful, but if all the flowers are pollinated, the fruit will be small and stunted. Simply twist the small fruits between your thumb and finger to remove them. Leave only one fruit per six inches of branch.
  • Support the branch by stretching a tension wire across the top of the tree for smaller trees , such as dwarf root trees. For young branches that don’t seem to be able to support the weight of the fruit, you can run supports downward. Another simple support can be used from the ground by placing two timbers, each with a hook or nail, under the branches.

Support fruit trees in the garden

After such an operation, cover all the holes where the nails were driven with garden pitch

When fruit trees are in bloom and producing a bountiful harvest, keep an eye on the branches to see if they need additional reinforcement. All too often, the branches of peach trees break under the weight of ripe peaches or dwarf apple trees uproot under the weight of a heavy crop. Before your trees collapse under the pressure of another growing season, give them the support they need to make it through the summer.

Simple Y-shaped branch supports

A simple support is used from the ground by placing two timbers under the branches

Branch supports don’t have to be costly or time-consuming. Branch supports that attach to a broom handle or a piece of wood can be easily found online or at your local garden store. You can also simply lean the branch against a nearby fence or take a large stick. Make sure it is sturdy, straight and has a forked end. It doesn’t have to be thick, but it does need to be tall enough to reach the branch in question and give it a place to rest. Insert the branch support vertically into the ground and insert a drooping branch of your fruit tree into the fork to secure it. This Y-shaped tree branch support is a free and easy solution and so simple you can support your fruit trees.

Support fruit trees with metal pipe or wooden pole

You need to tie all the main branches to a metal pipe or wood, well connected to the trunk of the tree

It is easier to prevent branches from breaking off the trunk. To do this, you need to tie all the main branches to a metal pipe or a strong rod (respectively, a wooden pole), which is well connected to the trunk of the tree. The length of the pipe should be half a meter higher than the trunk to which it will be attached. At the very top, weld 12-15 metal rings or, even better, chain segments consisting of only two links.

To them are attached ropes or soft wires with a diameter of 4-5 mm, the length of which is slightly greater than the distance between the top of the pipe and the end of the branch. Then the lower end of the tube is inserted into a hole 5-10 cm deep (for stability) and well tied to the trunk at the very bottom, in the middle and preferably above the middle. To avoid damaging the trunk of the tree, pieces of an old tire must be placed under the wire or string.

Decorative trellis systems are effective

Support fruit trees - A more elaborate, decorative solution for heavy, fruit-bearing branches is trellising

A more elaborate, decorative solution for heavy, fruit-bearing branches is a trellis. While an ordinary trellis is suitable for support, a trellis that grows the tree flat against a wall, fence or wire frame transforms your tree into a work of art. An espalier fruit tree is a great way to plant a fruit tree in a small space and create a natural border, and it’s also a great solution for supporting fruit trees.

Create your own trellis system

Create your own trellis system so that you can support your fruit trees

Create your own trellis system along an existing fence or wall with two 4-by-4-foot posts and thick wire. First, choose a sunny location. Then set the posts 75 inches deep and 240 inches apart. Lay three rows of wire horizontally and 40 cm apart. Plant your fruit tree just in front of the center of the trellis system and place it so that at least two of its strongest branches are parallel to the wire. Cut back any branches that are not in line with the wires.

Secure the branches to be trained to the appropriate wires with a soft tie or tape so that they grow in line and in the desired shape. Continue cutting as the trunk grows and attach new branches to the appropriate wires. It may take several years to grow a showy espalier fruit tree, but the branches will be well supported along the way.

Supporting the branches with staples, wire, screws.

One way to help the tree is to secure its branches with iron staples

Another way to help the tree , is to attach its branches to the trunk with iron staples made of ordinary wire 8 to 10 mm thick. The length of the staples may vary depending on where they are cut, and their ends are bent by 8-10 cm and sharpened. The staple is not driven completely into the wood and does not hinder the growth of the trunk and branches. And so that the branch does not split when the staple is driven in, you need to carefully drill a hole in it beforehand, one-third the length of the staple to be driven in. These driven staples do not interfere with the development of the apple tree, they gradually grow into the wood and reliably protect the branches from breaking.

If there are no staples, you can securely fasten the tapered shoot with a soft steel wire with a diameter of 3-4 mm. To do this, wrap the trunk and branch 2-3 times with wire and fasten the ends together. Then you need to twist the wire between the trunk and branch several times until it stretches and holds. And so that the wire does not damage the bark, it is best to put pieces of cut car tires under it.

If a branch is broken due to the heaviness of the fruit

What if the branch is broken where it was attached to the trunk

Well, what if the branch is broken in the place where it was attached to the trunk? First you need to cut off all the immature crop from the branch. Then – support the branch and, if possible, return it to its original position. Then it must be secured with wire and thin staples, and the break itself must be additionally squeezed, firmly connecting the branch and the trunk with several nails. The hammered nail must not come out on the other side of the tree. It must be driven in carefully until the head of the nail penetrates the bark.

After such “surgery”, all the holes where you drove the nails, must be covered with garden pitch. And if the branch is completely broken off, cut it with a sharp hacksaw, the places where the bark was damaged, cleaned with a sharp knife and carefully cover the wound with garden pitch.

If the fruit trees produce a rich harvest, you should pay attention to whether they need reinforcement