In several posts on this blog, I have stresses the importance of removing stalked buds from rapidly growing young trees to encourage the growth of a strong central leader tree. The photo at right shows the terminal portion of a tree I grafted this past spring. Note that the primary buds in each leaf axil have already formed a long stalked bud.
By removing all these primary buds near the apex of the tree, I can force the tree to remain focused on growing a single central leader. Pruning out stalked primary buds effectively delays the tree from developing lateral branches in the pruned area for 3-4 weeks. This allows the central leader to grow taller, staying well above later developing lateral branches.
However, my emphasis on removing stalked buds may have caused confusion among some growers. The photo at left shows the same tree as the one pictured above. However, this photo shows the central leader of my new graft about 2 feet below the apex. Here you will note a short stump hovering over a growing bud in each leaf axil. This stump was left behind when I pruned out a stalked, primary bud 3 weeks earlier.
Now the secondary buds are starting to grow out, looking like slightly shorter versions of those dreaded stalked buds. Here’s where the confusion comes in. Don’t feel the urge to rip off these secondary buds just because they appear to be stalked.
These secondary buds were fully sessile when they were formed. But at this point in time, the secondary buds are pushing out to grow new lateral branches. And since these new shoots are forming about 2 feet below the central leader’s terminal, you should let them grow out.
The art of young tree training is an act of making sure a tree achieves balance between growth of the central leader and the development wide-angled lateral branches. Allowing secondary buds to grow and produce laterals is an important part of that art.