When to reduce the "whorl" branches on pines in training

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#1
Hi folks.

I think I've got myself confused with regards to pruning the whorl branches on my Pines (JBP. JWP & Scots). I know from a design perspective, we should remove bar branches and whorls to stop unsightly bulges or inverse taper, but at what stage in a young pines life is the right time to do this? I've been removing bar branches and reducing whorls on young trees almost as soon as I've identified them, but I'm now thinking this is wrong. The more needles means more photosynthesis, right, which makes for a more vigorous tree, so should I be leaving bar branches and whorls alone while a tree is in development? If this is the case, when is the right time to prune these out? Or am I already doing it right?

Thanks folks,

Andy
 
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#2
Hi folks.

I think I've got myself confused with regards to pruning the whorl branches on my Pines (JBP. JWP & Scots). I know from a design perspective, we should remove bar branches and whorls to stop unsightly bulges or inverse taper, but at what stage in a young pines life is the right time to do this? I've been removing bar branches and reducing whorls on young trees almost as soon as I've identified them, but I'm now thinking this is wrong. The more needles means more photosynthesis, right, which makes for a more vigorous tree, so should I be leaving bar branches and whorls alone while a tree is in development? If this is the case, when is the right time to prune these out? Or am I already doing it right?

Thanks folks,

Andy
Yes I think you're doing it right. I remove them when they start causing problems. For example bulging...or better before it... Or when they shade a growth below and the space left can be filled in using a branch above.

BTW I've seen many good pines with some bar branches left, especially in top parts of a tree.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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#3
It depends on the stage of development, but everything we do with pines is to create or maintain balance. Sacrifice branches can mostly be allowed to run wild. Final branches need to be reduced to a pair of shoots at each terminal in the fall or after summer candle-cutting. There are two approaches to this technique after summer candle cutting (JBP):

1. Do it as they appear, reducing each terminal to a single pair which appear opposite each other and are of similar size. The reason for this approach is to prevent potential bulging and to divert the energy to developing the buds in the desired positions from the start.

2. Let them all grow and pruning back to a similarly-sized pair in the fall. The reason for this approach is that energy distributed among more candles means each shoot will be smaller, and when they’re pruned back to a pair in the fall, those that remain will be smaller.

Both work, but I tend toward the first approach and will actually be removing excess candles from one of my JBP this weekend. I may take some photos.
 
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Brian Van Fleet

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#4
Here you go. This is a JBP just getting to the refinement stage. It was candle-cut a month ago, and the second flush of buds is lengthening into candles.

This tree, worse than some, has a tendency to produce a wild range of shoots, and I have found it is easier to wire pines when the ramification emerges in horizontal forks. Here is a lower branch that produced 9 buds in response to summer candle-cutting...which I reduced down to 2 similar-sized buds, situated across from one another. Thinking ahead to make wiring easier in the fall. Notice I left another pair of small buds developing behind the terminal candles. I may cut back to them in the fall as an alternative. We’ll see.
Before pruning; After; Buds removed:
C604B8E4-3EEA-43D4-9EC0-E858FB72EE19.jpeg EDB1AF82-6AE5-4E2B-B77B-550070125259.jpeg 60146BAC-D568-4BF8-90D3-730FA55A1419.jpeg

This is the tree:
9574E169-58A0-490A-8849-6DE9E5178421.jpeg
 
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#5
Thanks Brian - brilliant advice, I'm going to bookmark this!

How do you get in amongst the buds to cut them out individually like this?! Do you have some sort of bud scissors or
just a razor blade or something?! 😀

What do you do with much younger trees where they are still years off of refinement? Do you just leave the whorls alone until they start to bulge and become a problem? Or are you pruning them out early too?

Thanks again,

Andy
 

Brian Van Fleet

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#6
Thanks Brian - brilliant advice, I'm going to bookmark this!

How do you get in amongst the buds to cut them out individually like this?! Do you have some sort of bud scissors or
just a razor blade or something?! 😀

What do you do with much younger trees where they are still years off of refinement? Do you just leave the whorls alone until they start to bulge and become a problem? Or are you pruning them out early too?

Thanks again,

Andy
I use long-handled scissors for most pruning:
http://kaneshin.shop.multilingualcart.com/index_en_jpy_7-161.html
And as mentioned, this is for trees in the refinement stage, not development stage. You want to avoid whorls on anything you intend to keep as part of the final design, but sacrifice branches can be allowed to run and thicken the rest.
 

Adair M

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#7
It depends on the stage of development, but everything we do with pines is to create or maintain balance. Sacrifice branches can mostly be allowed to run wild. Final branches need to be reduced to a pair of shoots at each terminal in the fall or after summer candle-cutting. There are two approaches to this technique after summer candle cutting (JBP):

1. Do it as they appear, reducing each terminal to a single pair which appear opposite each other and are of similar size. The reason for this approach is to prevent potential bulging and to divert the energy to developing the buds in the desired positions from the start.

2. Let them all grow and pruning back to a similarly-sized pair in the fall. The reason for this approach is that energy distributed among more candles means each shoot will be smaller, and when they’re pruned back to a pair in the fall, those that remain will be smaller.

Both work, but I tend toward the first approach and will actually be removing excess candles from one of my JBP this weekend. I may take some photos.
And, I do just the opposite of Brian! I do it the second way. I let all the summer shoots grow until the harden off, then in fall (mid-October thru December) go thru and reduce the shoots to two balanced ones. And pull old needles. And wire and style, if needed.

Brian and I have agreed to disagree on this aspect of JBP training. Otherwise, we do everything pretty much the same.

Edited to add:

When a tree is in the early stages of refinement, you are more likely to get lots of summer shoots. Like 4 or more. As the tree matured and develops a high degree of refinement, the tree’s energy is divided, so the tree doesn’t produce as many shoots at easy terminal. Often, it produces only two, so no thinning is needed! Or only one! Whats’s typical is three new shoots, and the bulging that Brian alluded to is minimal when there are only three summer shoots.

When young and vigorous, the tree may have four or more! new summer shoots. This is where some bulging can occur. I cut back to two in the fall. What I have found is the bulging is only temporary. A year later, the bulge has dried up around the parts where the removed shoots were attached, and it flakes off. Therefore, in practice, I find the bulging that Brian speaks of is a non-issue.
 
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#8
Thanks Adair - I've got a couple of JBP's so I might try both approaches to see if one works for me in my location here in the wet north of England.

Can I ask about needle pulling? Am I right in thinking that you pull needles on a branch to reduce vigour? Meaning these new shoots will be shorter?
 
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#9
Hi folks.

I think I've got myself confused with regards to pruning the whorl branches on my Pines (JBP. JWP & Scots). I know from a design perspective, we should remove bar branches and whorls to stop unsightly bulges or inverse taper, but at what stage in a young pines life is the right time to do this? I've been removing bar branches and reducing whorls on young trees almost as soon as I've identified them, but I'm now thinking this is wrong. The more needles means more photosynthesis, right, which makes for a more vigorous tree, so should I be leaving bar branches and whorls alone while a tree is in development? If this is the case, when is the right time to prune these out? Or am I already doing it right?

Thanks folks,

Andy
Because; sometimes inorder to manuver a tree into doing what you want it to do, you have to interrupt, interfere with, and cause to redirect the tree's natural tendencies. Sometimes logic and reason are negotiable. Vigorous trees are good but they have to be vigorous how you want them.
 

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