Tree hugging may be a popular way of protecting old growth forests, but tree rubbing is probably the easiest way to remove new growth before you need to break out the pruners.
Which buds should you keep?
Each spring, trees and shrubs put out new dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of new buds. Some of these buds will produce new branches that will result in fruit or nuts. And some of those buds will grow into branches that are structurally unsound, or that reduce air flow, increasing the likelihood of fungal disease. To decide which buds to keep, you need to look at the overall structure of the tree or shrub, with an eye for its mature size. The type of tree training you use will depend on the tree species, your microclimate, and your own preferences.
When to remove unwanted buds?
Life has a way of growing rampantly wherever it can, leaving the excess to die off. You can allow your fruit and nut trees to grow at will, but that will reduce your harvestable crop and increase the odds of pests or disease occurring. Since each spring bud uses water and nutrients, the longer you leave them on, the less resources your tree has for other areas of growth. It also means putting more effort into pruning unwanted growth later in the season.
Pruning vs. rubbing
These tiny new shoots are very delicate. If any of those buds are in locations where new branches would be inappropriate, you can wait for them to grow, or you can simply wipe them off with your hand. Rubbing your hand up and down the trunk easily knocks off all that new growth. You can also use this time to check around the trunk for suckers, and remove them, too.
So, each spring, have a stroll through your garden or landscape and give your trees and shrubs a good rub down. You’ll be glad you did, come summer!
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