Styling Advice for Young Cherry Tree

electronfusion

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Below is my rainier cherry tree, which I acquired spring 2019 from a local nursery and immediately trunk chopped. It's been growing vigorously since and just lost its leaves for the winter. Next spring I plan to air layer it off of its dwarfing rootstock and possibly rework the chop site.

A little background: right after chopping, a new branch popped up about an inch below the chop, so I made the flat cut into an angled cut, and attempted to wire that new branch to lay flat against the wound, connecting with the new leader, and with luck, fusing to the leader in time, also bridging the gap of that wound. But I couldn't quite get the branch to bend that far, and so there is a significant space between it and the wound. I'm now doubting whether that was the correct course of action. Would it be better to make the lower branch the new leader, and make a second angled chop? Or, to attempt the Van Meer method, carving out a wedge of wood between the two branches and trying to get them closer together that way? What will heal more natural looking? What will heal more quickly?
 

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Leo in N E Illinois

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Forget the "Van Meer" method, it is an advanced technique for persons already skilled at carving & grafting. I would just cut back, all cuts being flat, at a 90 across the trunk.

Next time you repot, change the angle the trunks leave the ground. You want somewhere between 30 to 45 degrees off vertical, If you tilt to a 45 angle, the branch coming off the trunk at a 90 can be positioned so it is going up at a 45, and become your new leader.

The other is I would forget doing much pruning for the time being. Just repot, to get the angle change, then let them grow out. You need a couple years of growth without pruning to get the vigor up and get some size on the caliper of your trunk.

I do not have personal experience air layering cherries. I do not think they air layer easily. You might let them get tall enough that when you place your air layers, there will be branches with leaves both above AND BELOW the air layer. That way if the air layer fails, you still have some of the 'Rainier' cherry growing below the air layer. You don't want to loose 100% of the 'Rainier' if the air layer fails.

Also, allow up to 2 years to root. If it is going to root, it should within 3 months, but sometimes an air layer will just make callous. In that case, keep the air layer wrapped and moist, and let it hang through the second growing season. If it will root at all it will before the end of the second growing season. If it doesn't root in 2 years it probably will never root.
 

electronfusion

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I forgot to mention, the lower line I drew on the photo is the current graft line, where I was planning to do the air layer.

I had some very rushed cherry air layers this spring that almost took (I had about a month before they chopped down the mother tree). Those were ambitious air layers, about 2" diameter branches, like the trunk of this tree, and they had significant callouses with a few stubby white roots. Unfortunately, I was not able to anchor them well in their pots after separating, and the wind kept knocking them over, exposing their poor tiny roots. Otherwise I think those might have survived. Since I have all the time in the world with this air layer, 2 full growing seasons attached to the original root system seems reasonable to me.

My main conundrum is what to do at the current chop site shown in the two closeup photos. I'll forget Van Meer, as I don't have any carving or grafting skills yet. @Leo in N E Illinois it sounds like your advice is to just plan on the first long branch on the left becoming the leader at some point, and let it grow unrestrained for a few years before doing anything else?
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Yep.

Letting it grow out, will also give you more choices. Letting it grow out, will trigger back budding. That future back budding will provide more choices. Yes, I see that branch as the future leader. But, if you let it grow out for a year or two or three, you might end up with better choices. Keep an open mind.
 

Tieball

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I’m probably not following your plan properly. I’m still trying to figure out why you’re bending the branch that was on the right to the extreme left....almost flat. it does look to me that you’ll create a significant bulge at that top area doing this. That bulge will need to be removed in a short time. And then you’ll have an even bigger irregular chop. You have one bulge below on the trunk....and now you’re creating a second bulge above that one. I’m not following your direction with the bending. I get lost sometimes when I can’t see a path.
 

electronfusion

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@Tieball the original goal was to create an approach graft / bridge graft, where that lower branch would act as a live vein across the one large wound, essentially dividing that large wound into two smaller wounds which would heal faster. But I was not able to bend the branch far enough to lay flat, so yes, there is now a gap and more of a bulge than there would have been otherwise. That is why I have asked for suggestions as to whether and how to change my plans.

The bulge lower down on the trunk is the graft line. This was grafted nursery stock. As mentioned above, I plan to air layer above that. I have no intention of keeping the rootstock.
 

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Okay. I see. Interesting plan. Unusual. Given what I see in the tree right now I’d just let it grow. I think you could air layer....but from what I see you’ll have another bulge above the air layer point. I’ve had trees with problems like this....I put them in a grow box or large plastic pot, set the planting aside, and then do nothing with it until it gets really thick in the trunk....and also much taller. It’s quite likely that, after a lot of growth, that there will be a better air layer point we’ll above what you indicated right now. Or even multiple air layer points. The real air layer points, in my view, have not yet even grown. I’d let both trees I see just grow a lot more.
 

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to create an approach graft / bridge graft, where that lower branch would act as a live vein across the one large wound, essentially dividing that large wound into two smaller wounds which would heal faster.
Yup, I have come across this method to help heal large cuts faster too. I think however you misunderstand what is considered a large cut. This in my book is a small cut where young branches are already 1/3 of the chopped branch in thickness. The technique will only create ugly bulges Large cuts are in the area of multiple inches across. I must however say.. Like the van Meer technique.. I have never come across anyone successfully doing this, and where the technique obviously made a difference. Some things just take a bit of time, and there its not much one can do to speed up the process.
 

electronfusion

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@leatherback that's interesting. I guess I figured if it takes multiple years to heal over, then it's a large cut. I also have tried these techniques a few times on less important trees and not gotten the results I'd hoped for.

So now that that's been tried, are you also in the camp of just letting it grow out a few more years before trying anything else? Or would you do something to get rid of that unsightly bump in the shorter term?
 

leatherback

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Take a close loo at the cut site. I think you will fin that the wound edges have withdrawn from the actual cut. You need to make sure the bark can actually grow over the cut..

I think you are making the problem bigger with the whole branch bending over exercise. I would probably cut it back to the first but on that new branch and regrow that.

I'll let you decide what I think of healing it over..: https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/healing-a-large-wound.18474/

I do not believe in rushing these things
 

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