A bit off the top

It has been a beautiful day here this Easter Friday so I took the opportunity to get out my secateurs and do a little maintenance pruning on the quince tree.

Quinces seem to have a naturally untidy habit of growth so there is often some general pruning to do. Like most fruit trees (with the exception of stone fruits such as plums and cherries), this is best done in the dormant season so I was just in time as the leaf buds were nearly ready to burst.

Pruning has a bit of mystique around it but is really not that difficult when you know why you are doing it. In this case I was trying to keep the tree healthy and fruiting well by cutting out dead wood, crossing growths and weak shoots growing inside the crown (general good husbandry) and then ‘tipping back’ (lightly pruning) some of the longer growths. As quince fruits mainly on the ends of the growth made the previous year and less on side spurs, this shortening of branches will probably reduce the number of fruits a little but this will hopefully mean that the remaining fruit will be bigger. I’m also hoping (vainly, no doubt!) that shortening branch tips will help keep the tree more compact: it is currently 6 metres tall and still growing lustily!

A few years ago I noticed that the bark on the trunk was starting to peel low down. This worried me as I had lost some plants to honey fungus and this can be an early sign. However several years on the tree is obviously still happy and the bark has now peeled well up into the crown. Some trees shed some bark naturally and although I couldn’t find any references to quinces being one of these it seems that perhaps they can be.

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