Ume Trunk Development

Hi folks and Happy New Year!

I have a question about trunk development in Ume’s (Japanese Apricot). I’ve got 3 Ume’s - one Beni Chidori, one Omoi-no-mam and and unnamed seedling. The Beni is in a pot on my bench -it grows out well during the spring and summer but often dies back over winter. Going to try getting it in the ground this year to see if that helps.

The other two are both in pots and are growing well but I dont know if I’m training them correctly as they are rather shrub like with quite a few branches growing out of the main trunk. I read an article somewhere that advises the removal of all growth from the trunk to keep it clean and scar free. This seems sensible to me, but by doing this aren’t you losing the opportunity to help grow the trunk with the use of sacrifice branches?

So my main question is - What is best for developing the trunk on a Ume?

1). Leave side branches on and just leave it to grow and get bushy until the trunk reaches the thickness you want and then remove all side branches back to the trunk?

2). Remove all side branches and just leave the leader to grow until the first part of the trunk reaches the thickness you want?

3). Another strategy?

Do Ume back-bud from the trunk? If you do a trunk chop and take the trunk back so there are no side branches, will the trunk produce buds from which you can choose a new leader?

Thanks all,

Andy

1 Like

Hi Andy
Your post raises several questions.
The die back in the winter could be associated with your climate and how well Ume are suited to the site. I protect my ume over winter in an unheated greenhouse. On the other hand it could also be associated with pruning methods carried out in the fall or late summer.
I seal all cuts and leave small stubs up to a bud or branch division. Trim the stub later and seal again.

Growing out the trunk involves the decision of desired style. Are you after a single trunk? Or are you after a clump style?

Techniques do not need to be mutually exclusive, in that if you use one, you cannot use the other! There is a matter of balance. For example one can foster vertical extension and still keep some lateral branching under control to prevent excess scarring and retain branch options for later.

I have found my ume backbud readily when vigorous. I do understand this is dependant on the variety. I chose Kobai for this reason.
Ume are often grafted so this is also another development option.
My approach is to grow the trunk first, retain some lower buds or branches with each cutback and work progressively lower with the cutbacks as possible with lower options retained.
Attached below is a Kobai after one season of growth. It was cut back to six inch length at the beginning of the season. I wired the extension to give some movement to the cuttings i intend to take later this winter for propogation.

1 Like

I haven’t grown enough to know if there’s a “best” way, but a few ideas come to mind. The first is that I’d suggest experimenting with different approaches. That’s hard with just a few specimens to start with, but the more trees there are in a batch, the more opportunities there are to learn which meet your goals best.

As for the questions:

1). Leave side branches on and just leave it to grow and get bushy until the trunk reaches the thickness you want and then remove all side branches back to the trunk?

I’d want to try at least one this way. Ume are most often shown with deadwood so depending on the location of the sacrifice branches, any resulting deadwood from their removal could contribute to the design.

2). Remove all side branches and just leave the leader to grow until the first part of the trunk reaches the thickness you want?

I’d try this too, but I’d always leave at least a few side branches. This approach works best when you’re happy with the roots before rapid trunk thickening.

3). Another strategy?

I like the two basic approaches you suggested. Before rapid thickening, wiring branches/trunk-lines can help ensure you’ll get some movement in the trunk.