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Q: When should I prune my fruit trees?
A: The best time to prune fruit trees is when it is dormant (leaves are off), both for the practical purpose of being able to see your cuts as well as pruning targeted dormant buds can help focus the plant's energy on the remaining buds to improve growth and production for the next season.
Q: How do I know if my tree is dying?
A: There are several places to observe and assess a trees life status. If you notice at the base of the tree saw dust or an ant trail, there's decay on the tree. On the bark look for peeling bark, cracks and holes. Mushrooms growing from the tree also suggest the tree is dying. Anywhere there is an area without bark that side of the tree isn't getting nutrients. The best time to evaluate if a tree is dead or dying is in the spring when there should be new growth occurring.
Q: My tree has 2 tops- Is that a problem?
A: When there are 2 or more main stems on a tree its referred to a co-dominant. Co-dominant stems tend to fail much more often than others, especially in storms, even though they may appear to be healthy. Maples and oaks have a tendency towards co-dominants as well as conifer trees that have been cut or damaged along the main stem and then several new stems will grow. Important factors for assessing the risk of a co-dominant include:
1) Do the 2 stems form a U or a V shape? V shapes are more likely to fail as they compress the bark between them.
2) Are there signs of decay (rotting matter, fluid flowing from union point, swelling at the union point, other plants growing from union point)?
3) Are there any cracks at the union point or signs of damage?