Topping New trees?

Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
I have never heard of this or seen it discussed here; however, received instructions from Cummins on transplanting trees. They state that when you receive your trees, the main leader should be cut back to 38" of the graft union.

I have never done this. Can anyone comment on this?

Here are their instructions ...

Topping your trees​

If you don't top the trees, the chances of surviving transplant are decreased.

Now your trees are planted. What's next? ..... This can be a painful process. We sometimes have to prune the trees to fit into the shipping boxes. Some stone fruit gets 8-10 ft tall in the nursery! The pruning that we do at shipping time is usually not enough. Be brave. Cut the tops as we suggest and you and your trees will be much happier. Topping promotes strong healthy growth and gives you a well shaped tree.

Apples and pears:​

  1. Feathered trees. If a tree has branches, trim the central leader back half way and all side branches back half way.This is minimum pruning. It would not be incorrect to prune the central leader back to 38 inches from the graft union and prune all branches back to 3/4 inch nubs.
  2. Whips or trees with one or two branches. Trim all branches back to 3/4 in nubs. Cut central leader back to 38
 

chickenlittle

5 year old buck +
I did this on my big order from them I got in 2015. They responded and grew well.
 

Buckly

5 year old buck +
I also did the required pruning on all my apples when planted. Cut off any branches back to nubs and the main leader down to about 40 inches. They respond well.
 

Turkey Creek

5 year old buck +
Not sure there is anything truly magical about the 38" measurement, but newly transplanted trees do tend to benefit from pruning. The pruning brings the tree back in line with roots lost during the digging process and a bit of the transplant shock. Keep in mind where you make that heading cut that the buds immediately below the cut will attempt to become leaders and lateral branches. Train the new growth accordingly. Most of the trees we ship are already headed back usually just to fit the box.
 

Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
Does cutting back the main stem to say around ~40" form where the crotch of the tree will be or will a new main leader develop?

I really have 2 focus' for my apple trees. The first is for orchard trees for cider & eating. I typically see these trees with a lower & wider crown.

The second would be for deer food. I have read where you want a taller tree and main leader with many suggesting 1st laterals at around 48".

Do you guys see any difference for the 2 in initial pruning?
 

Troubles Trees

5 year old buck +
I am certainly no expert here, but it would seem to me they would save on shipping if it was pruned to the right size by them and put in a box half as tall. It would then arrive to the customer already pruned by a professional as opposed to shipping it too big and leaving it up to the customers.

In my humble opinion the customer should only have to dig in the trees and protect them the first year. I guess I simply miss the logic here which happens often anyway :)
 

chickenlittle

5 year old buck +
I am certainly no expert here, but it would seem to me they would save on shipping if it was pruned to the right size by them and put in a box half as tall. It would then arrive to the customer already pruned by a professional as opposed to shipping it too big and leaving it up to the customers.

In my humble opinion the customer should only have to dig in the trees and protect them the first year. I guess I simply miss the logic here which happens often anyway :)
Then their customers don’t get the joy of receiving huge feathered trees for which they paid a premium.
 

bigboreblr

5 year old buck +
Novice here too. Very suprised how much my bareroot apple trees were lopped off the top. I have done a fair share of shipping, some added length wouldnt effect the price much.

My trees were lopped off where the whip was about the size of AAA battery. I thought I was getting tiny guys for the price.

I got my trees in late sunday night. Went to cage them yesterday, a deer was chewing on one already.
 

Turkey Creek

5 year old buck +
I am certainly no expert here, but it would seem to me they would save on shipping if it was pruned to the right size by them and put in a box half as tall. It would then arrive to the customer already pruned by a professional as opposed to shipping it too big and leaving it up to the customers.

In my humble opinion the customer should only have to dig in the trees and protect them the first year. I guess I simply miss the logic here which happens often anyway :)
If you read the ads on the Stark Bros page it will say "professionally pruned" prior to shipping.... no extra charge!:emoji_laughing:
 

Turkey Creek

5 year old buck +
Novice here too. Very suprised how much my bareroot apple trees were lopped off the top. I have done a fair share of shipping, some added length wouldnt effect the price much.

My trees were lopped off where the whip was about the size of AAA battery. I thought I was getting tiny guys for the price.

I got my trees in late sunday night. Went to cage them yesterday, a deer was chewing on one already.
Actually you would be really surprised at the difference in cost between shipping a 48" long box vs a 49" long box is. We ship in 48" long boxes for that reason. We can ship in a slightly longer box if customers request it, but in the grand scheme of the trees life there is little to no difference in terms of when that tree will bear fruit. We hear all the time from customers that tell us they bought a 7' tall tree at a Big Box Store and the trees has sat there in the ground and has done nothing while our trees which started out smaller have already surpassed them height wise.
 

wooduck

5 year old buck +
Notice ,,,,, customer pays shipping grower cannot possibly know what everyone will do with said tree ,, Grower would invest more time pruning trees shorter labor has a cost when shipping many thousands of trees ,, Some times height and caliber reflects health
 

bjseiler

5 year old buck +
I follow their instructions and have had pretty good results. Sadly the deer got to my 1 year old trees about two months ago and they appeared to have also followed Cummins' instructions on pruning my trees......
 

b116757

5 year old buck +
Actually you would be really surprised at the difference in cost between shipping a 48" long box vs a 49" long box is. We ship in 48" long boxes for that reason. We can ship in a slightly longer box if customers request it, but in the grand scheme of the trees life there is little to no difference in terms of when that tree will bear fruit. We hear all the time from customers that tell us they bought a 7' tall tree at a Big Box Store and the trees has sat there in the ground and has done nothing while our trees which started out smaller have already surpassed them height wise.
Chris is on mark with this I’ve had better luck generally speaking with bare root mail order trees than potted trees not to say there aren’t exceptions either way there have been. This is where researching vendors online and our little hive of knowledge on this site really shines.
 

b116757

5 year old buck +
To take the hive knowledge one step farther maybe we need a vendor score card thread that’s stickied or a new forum header. It really looks like it’s been informally done over the years with some vendors on here anyway.
 

rocksnstumps

5 year old buck +
Just got some trees from Blue Hills this week and got em planted today. Advertised as 3-5 ft. The 3 ft were not headed back but all the tall ones were clipped off just after a bud and yes fit in the box.

Would guess that not many would head back a 3 ft whip since that would make it grade the next size down.

Decent roots on all. Will see if these Kerr can out do another nursery planted last yr but those Kerr did not grow much.
 

cavey

5 year old buck +
I almost always top my trees now, new ones... and I often top a foot or so of each year for the first few years . Its a hard pill to swallow lopping off the tops of new trees but the trees do benefit long term IMO.


I would be mad if they trimmed my tree before I got a chance to ....... Another bonus is I get a tree and I will get at least 3 more trees off this scion stick. Every new tree is a awesome source of scion.



I still am grabbing the odd variety I dont have, so the addiction still persists. I have a problem walking by those fleet farm trees in the box and seeing one I dont have. This one went right into the ground, screened, staked, and caged. Finally got out and dropped cages and stakes in a new area out at the farm... 20 or so trees on one side of the water hole and the same on the other... we just keep getting rain up here. Good for the trees in the ground not so good for me lifting the ones out of the nursery for transplanting and getting them moved out to the food plot. Muddy mess.
 

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Eagle

Yearling... With promise
As said above, the top trimmings make excellent scion wood! I have tried side-by-side comparisons of topped trees vs leaving the trees full height. Withing 2 years the topped tree has passed the full height tree. Its a good time to do some shaping of the tree too. The truck grows thicker on the topped trees as well.
 
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