Why cut at all?
Sweet cherries are impatient fellows. They show no consideration for the gardener. They like to grow between 40 and 60 cm per year and tall trunks can reach heights of up to 30 m! In order to stop the growth and to encourage the cherry to develop a lot of fruit wood, the tree should be pruned regularly.
- Planting a sweet cherry: how's it going right?
- The sweet cherry as a high stem - advantages and disadvantages
- The sweet cherry as a half-stem
Another aim of pruning is so that the sun can better penetrate a lighter crown. The result: fruits ripen better and more evenly. In addition, water can dry faster on the leaves and wood and fungal diseases have no chance.
It all depends on the right timing
In contrast to many other fruit trees, the sweet cherry should not be cut in autumn. The best time to cut is in the summer after the harvest (August). A dry day should be selected for this. Alternatively, the cut can only be made in spring in mild locations. But be careful: a cut in spring stimulates growth.
Which tool do you need?
For branches that are not thicker than 1.5 cm, pruning shears or secateurs can be used. A pruning saw is used for thicker branches. Before the tool can get to the wood, it should be disinfected in order to eliminate any pathogens on the tools.
How is the cut done?
After the sweet cherry has been planted, a pruning is made if the nursery has not done this yet. The central shoot and three to four guide branches are shortened. All other instincts are mercilessly removed.
Later - preferably every year - a pruning is carried out in order to thin out the crown and make it smaller. That's how it's done:
- Take away shoots that grow inside
- Shorten hanging wood considerably
- Where to cut ?: above a young side shoot
- Remove old and poorly load-bearing wood if necessary
- Caution: do not cut away any short shoots with whorled buds (they bear most of the fruit)
Tips & Tricks
If the sweet cherry has suffered large cuts (larger than 3 cm), these should be provided with a wound closure agent as a precaution. Otherwise, there is a great risk that fungal spores from Monilia and Co can penetrate the wounded wood.