Why tops appear on the apple tree and when they need to be cut, prevention and what to do

Why tops appear on the apple tree and when they need to be cut, prevention and what to do

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Almost all trees have hidden buds, which are a reserve used for immediate plant regeneration. It is from these hidden buds that the formation of tops on the apple tree begins.

Tops on an apple tree - what is it?

The appearance of topside shoots can be observed in the following cases:

  • with significant mechanical damage to the surface of the bark of young trees;
  • after incorrect pruning of adult apple trees for rejuvenation;
  • due to the addition of a large amount of fertilizers that contain nitrogen.

It is very easy to determine that tops have begun to appear on the plants, since it is difficult to confuse them with something. Their feature can be considered the fact that they grow only in an upright position.

Large leaves are formed on them, which are 5-10 cm distant from each other. Tops differ from ordinary shoots in their growth rate. In a few months, they grow up to two meters. Experienced gardeners are advised to remove such shoots, since fruits rarely form on them. They also consume a lot of strength from the trees, which negatively affects the ripening of the fruits.

Reasons for the appearance

Some gardeners do not know what causes spinning tops on trees. There are several main reasons that contribute to their occurrence:

  • Damage to the crown due to strong gusts of wind, frequent snowfalls or other natural disasters. With serious damage to the apple trees, the tops begin to grow in order to replace the dead branches and restore the normal state of the plant.
  • The development of black cancer and the appearance of dark spots. Pathology leads to the drying of the leaves and the death of the branches. Spinning stems grow back to form an intact crown.
  • Deep planting of an apple tree. Often, due to the deep planting of plants, tops appear at the bottom of the trees. To remove them, you will have to remove the top layer of soil in order to get to the base of the shoots and cut them off.

Do tops bear fruit?

Many are interested in whether apples are formed on top shoots. Branches that grow upright are rarely fruitful. Therefore, most tops do not form fruit. Their main goal is considered to be the restoration of the normal state of apple trees after damage or disease.

Fruits rarely appear on such branches due to their increased growth. Most of the nutrients are consumed for the development of the shoot, and therefore nothing remains for the formation of fruits. To force the stems to bear fruit, you will have to bend the shoot down for horizontal growth or regularly prune it.

Pruning time

Many gardeners do not know when it is best to prune the top stems in order to get rid of them. In spring or autumn, this is rarely done, since tops hardly appear at this time of the year. Most often, they begin to form in the first half of summer. By mid-July, young tops are able to grow up to one and a half meters.

It is impossible to determine the exact timing of pruning, since the shoots appear at different times. It is recommended to cut the tops when their length increases to 20-25 cm. With this size, they are still in a fragile state, and therefore, after cutting, no wounds remain on the plants.

Not everyone manages to get rid of spinning top shoots in time. In this case, you will have to remove them with garden shears. In order to get rid of the stems in time, you need to regularly inspect the trees and remove the recently appeared fatty shoots.

How to properly cut tops on an apple tree?

Gardeners prune the shoots with special tools. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare in advance all the necessary equipment. To perform trimming you will need:

  • Hacksaw. Used to prune old branches that cannot be removed manually.
  • Pruner. It is used to remove mature branches about a meter long.
  • Resins and building paints. With their help, sections are processed to protect against moisture.

All top-stems are removed under the base so that they cannot grow back in the future. When using a secateurs, its cutting part is applied to the trunk. Then its blades are gently squeezed to cut off the shoot. After that, all cut sites are treated with antiseptic agents for disinfection and coated with resins or paints.

When is pruning unnecessary?

It is not necessary to remove tops from apple trees, as they do not always harm plants. There are several cases in which they are left on apple trees:

  • For rejuvenation. Sometimes tops are left on old trees to rejuvenate them a little. To do this, all the branches left are bent in a horizontal position and tied to the supports. Then they are shortened in half so that fruits form on the tops. Most often, fatty shoots are left for rejuvenation if they grow near broken branches.
  • For the formation of additional branches with fruits. Sometimes tops are left to increase the yield of apple trees by forming new branches with fruits. To do this, all left topsy shoots are cut to two buds, after which a fruit branch is formed on them.

Prevention of the appearance of tops

To prevent the appearance of tops on apple trees, you will have to do prevention. It is no secret that diseases and damage to plants contribute to the emergence of fatty shoots. Therefore, when growing apples, you need to ensure that they are protected from gusts of wind and insects.

Also, for the prevention of tops, it is recommended to regularly inspect apple trees and remove young tops of the stems on them.


People who have been growing apple trees for many years often come across tops. Therefore, before planting apple trees, you need to familiarize yourself with the features of cutting fatty branches and preventing their occurrence.

Watch the video: Apple tree pruning renewal style (August 2022).