My fall decandling project has been moving along slowly – as expected. After trimming spring growth last October, small buds appeared before the tree slowed down for winter. By March, the buds had begun growing again. Some of the more vigorous branches produced five or six new buds. To keep these areas in check, I removed extra buds leaving just two young shoots per branch.
Japanese black pine – March 2011
Thinning to two buds
I used tweezers instead of plucking buds with my fingers to keep from damaging the remaining buds. I tried to keep buds that were equal in vigor and positioned opposite each other.
Too many buds
Grabbing unnecessary bud with tweezers
Branch thinned to two buds.
As I worked on the tree, I noticed a few peculiarities, like the large spring candle below. Last fall this branch was too weak to decandle. After the surrounding branches were decandled, this shoot become the most vigorous of the bunch. I’ll likely decandle it in June to prevent it from growing even stronger.
Spring candle among fall buds
I was happy to see some of the adventitious buds that sprouted last fall were continuing to grow. The main purpose of decandling the tree in fall was to produce these buds that will eventually allow me to reduce long branches.
After thinning the extra buds, the pine looked just as rangy as when I began. By not wiring the tree last fall, I guaranteed that the tree would look funny for at least a year or two.
Bud thinning complete
I’m currently feeding the tree heavily in hopes of strengthening new shoots, but a cool spring has kept growth to a minimum. As soon as it warms up a bit, I expect the new shoots to develop quickly.
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Kathy Sloan says
Thanks Jonas for such detailed articles and the pictures are great! Really helps beginners like me to understand what you are talking about. Thank you, Kathy
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As this was a bit of a test case for Autumn decandling and now the results are somewhat showing themselves, how do you feel the technique worked? Would you use it again? Do you see a vast difference to spring decandling?
It will be interesting to see what kind of length the new bud’s needles produce, I am assuming they will be longer than those of a spring decandling, but who knows.
Good question! It appears that decandling late produced a few more back buds than I would normally expect – a good thing. I’ll leave the final judgement until I see how the trees do for the rest of the season. Knowing now that it’s a safe technique, I won’t hesitate to try it again if the opportunity arises. I’ll provide another update before long – the trees are growing quickly now.
It definately brings a lot of questions to my mind. It is always exciting to learn of a new technique. Do you feel that this candle pruning timing is less stressful on the tree than a spring candle prune?
I will have to give this a go myself next season.
I look forward to your follow up articles.
Hi Joe – decandling in fall is quite a bit more stressful than spring decandling. When we cut candles in spring, new shoots appear that are fully productive by the end of the growing season. When we decandle in fall, the tree goes without new, productive needles until the following spring. For this reason, I’ll likely limit my fall decandling to very healthy trees.
Thanks for the note!