One of the significant advantages mast orchards offer is that after initial establishment, they require far less time and effort compared to food plots. Most tree species will continue providing mast to attract and hold more and healthier wildlife on your ground with little or no care. However, the more effort you put in, the more benefit you and the wildlife will get out. That’s why the folks at Chestnut Hill Outdoors do more than sell plants. To ensure you receive the maximum benefit from their products, they also provide sound advice and instruction on proper planting and care, including pruning.
Pruning is the orchardist’s equivalent of weeding the garden, removing non-beneficial growth that could impede productivity. The best time to prune the shape and height of most trees – called corrective pruning – is on dry winter days, when the plants are dormant. Summer pruning should only be for removing dead or diseased growth.
Corrective pruning consists mainly of removing broken, interfering, dead or diseased branches. Interfering branches to be removed include those growing toward the middle of the tree, those that are crossing or low limbs that may interfere with mowing or harvesting. You should also remove limbs and vigorous shoots growing through the center to allow more light and air to penetrate.
Start by conducting a visual inspection, beginning at the top of the tree and working downward. For most species, the tree should have a single trunk. Identify the best leader and later branches before you begin pruning. Next, remove dead, damaged or defective parts before pruning for form.
Once you begin that process, use the ⅓ and ¼ Rules of Pruning:
- Never remove more than ¼ of a tree’s crown in a season.
- Ideally, main side branches should be at least ⅓ smaller than the diameter of the trunk.
- For most deciduous (broadleaf) trees, don’t prune up from the bottom any more than ⅓ of the tree’s total height.
- Where possible, try to encourage side branches that form angles that are ⅓ off vertical, or roughly at a 30-degree upward angle from the trunk.
When trimming a small branch, make a sharp, angled cut about a ¼ inch above a lateral bud or another lateral branch, favoring a bud or branch that will grow outward. When cutting larger branches, cut outside the branch bark and ridge collar (swollen area), but do not leave a protruding stub. Keep your tools sharp, so you don’t tear or pull the bark at the cuts. Don’t worry about protecting pruning cuts with paint as it doesn’t prevent or reduce decay, but you may do so for aesthetics if you wish.
The above guidelines should be enough to address the most common situations. If the job is of too great a scale, you can always hire a professional arborist. Moreover, if you’re uncertain about any steps, the folks at Chestnut Hill Outdoors are eager to help out.
For more on selecting and protecting the right food plot and deer attractant plants, visit ChestnutHillOutdoors.com, or call (855) 386-7826.
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Chestnut Hill is the best place for you to purchase your food plot and deer attractant plants because they offer a large selection, their plants are specifically bred to attract deer, and they offer customers different sized plants at different levels of growth.
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