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How to Brace Fruit Tree Branches

Fruit trees such as pear, plum, peach and apple trees need regular pruning to create strong branches that can support a heavy fruit load. Branches with narrow crotches--the area where the limb is attached to the main trunk--are weaker than branches where the crotch supports a branch that extends at a 90 degree angle. However, most fruit trees, especially pears and apples, do not naturally grow with limbs at the best position for optimal strength. To correct the growth habit and strengthen the limbs, braces are added to the limbs to force them to grow at the correct right angle.

Step back to look at the the fruit tree and see how it should be shaped. For example, peach trees should be shaped with an open habit and apple trees should be shaped into a pyramid shape with scaffold branches at right angles every six inches.

Prune the fruit tree as needed, leaving the main branches that are required for fruit production. Some of the main branches left on the tree after pruning will be at the wrong angle with narrow crotches.

Position the spacer sticks, which can be cut branch sections, plastic tubing or pieces of light wood, between the trunk and the top of the branches that need to be forced downward.

Cut the spacers to a length where the upward pressure of the lower branch holds the spacer in place against the main stem, but the limb is not in danger of breaking from the downward pressure of the spacer sticks. Add as many spacers as needed to position the limbs correctly.

Tie garden twine from the middle of the spacers to the main trunk to hold the spacers in place. If the limbs need to be forced downward more over time, pull the spacer sticks closer to the trunk and tie in place after a few months.

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