The pyramid plum the first year

1 In March, cut back the leader to 5 ft. Cut back to the stem all laterals up to 18 in from the ground. Cut back the remaining laterals by one-half.

tree on for another year to acquire the needed height for a standard before cutting it back. Shorten all laterals to about 3 in to help thicken the stem.

In July or August, select four to five evenly spaced primary branches around the stem at the top. Pinch out the growing points of all others at four or five leaves, including those lower down the main stem. The second year In late winter, select four branches that have formed wide angles with the stem. Cut back each leader of those selected by one-half to outward-facing buds. Remove the remainder, including the lower laterals of the last year to thicken the stem.

In the summer, remove any suckers that appear from the ground as well as shoots on the main stem below the head. The third year Repeat the procedures adopted in the previous spring and summer, but allow more secondary branches to develop to fill the increased space, providing up to eight strong, well-placed outward-growing branches. In late winter, cut these back by one-half to two-thirds of the maiden

2 In fate July, shorten the new growth of the branch leaders to 8 in to downward-facing buds. Shorten the current season's laterals on the branches to 6 in. Do not prune the central leader.

growth to outward-facing buds. I cave shoots on the outer parts of the head not required for leaders. Prune back unpruned laterals on the inside of the tree to 3-4 in.

Little pruning of European plums is necessary in subsequent years. Generally, all that is needed is to cut out dead, broken, rubbing and crossing branches and to thin out the head when it becomes crowded. Japanese and native plums require the same general treatment, but, as noted above, may need some heading back.

Pruning the fan-trained tree Starting with a maiden tree, the framework of a fan-trained plum is built up in the same way as a fan-trained peach (see pages 67-9). Thereafter, the pruning is different because, unlike the peach, the plum fruits on short spurs on three- and four-year-old wood as well as on growth made in the previous summer. However, the older wood tends to become bare with age and from damage by frost or birds. The aim in pruning is to encourage spur formation and, when necessary, to replace worn-out branches.

In the early years, extend the framework, as with the peach, to fill in the wall space; then follow the steps below.

In the spring of later years, cut out a proportion of the old, worn-out wood back to young replacement branches. Paint the wounds.

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