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Supporting Your Fruit Trees

Which trees need support?

The good news is that pear trees and stonefruit do not require support systems. You might want to provide support for a pear tree for aesthetic reasons – to encourage particular growth habits, but they will do fine without it. Apple trees on almost all rootstocks benefit from support in the early years.

Why support your tree?

There are several reasons to provide support for young apple trees, irrespective of your long-term goals for the tree or the vigor of the rootstock your tree is grafted to.

  • First, a newly planted tree on any rootstock does not yet have an established root system. This means it is vulnerable to wind damage; even if the wind does not snap the tree, pressure on the canopy can damage and slow the development of the root system.
  • Second, a tree will simply grow more quickly and vigorously if the central leader is supported and directed upward.
  • Finally, apples are heavy! When your young tree begins to crop, it will typically produce more fruit than the tree can bear without snapping. Even a standard tree, on a rootstock such as B.118, cannot support its own crop load for the first 5-6 years. Therefore, providing support for the tree means losing less fruit to thinning and enjoying a larger harvest earlier in the tree’s life.

There are three different types of tree support. Most backyard growers will use stakes to support their trees.

Staking: Single Tree Support

Trellising

Espalier