Deciduous pruning

I have seen in Q&A’s Ryan mention letting species like Chinese Elm grow 5-6 nodes then prune back to 2 buds (one in the crotch and the next along the branch), I have also listened to the Dennis Vojtilla podcast who talks about taking maples back to one node (however I don’t know the timing).

My question is with new whippy long shoots as long as the cuticles have hardened off and we are in an energy positive are we able to perform this on all deciduous or just some? I’ve received conflicting info for maples saying they require the growth until Autumn (the leaves have become crispy/fallen) to ensure they get back the repayment if you will of sugars and starches. Is this correct?

I have trunk chopped a Acer Palmatum last Autumn after leaf drop it has come back strong this season and full of new shoots, wondering do I prune at all or now that the leaves have hardened just partially defoliate and let it be until leaf drop.

Hi, guess you’re in the southern hemisphere? Regardless, the approach you take is entirely dependent upon what you want to achieve at this stage of your trees development.
Do you want to develop primary branching? If so, wire to shape, let grow freely all season (removing the wire before cutting in). You can select the branching you want to keep and prune off what doesn’t help the design at any point, but if you trunk chopped allow free growth on everything until hardened at least, and possibly all season unless you’ve got branches that thicken so much that they threaten to cause inverse taper where they emerge from the same node.
Once you’ve got your primary structure grown out to near the thickness you want then you need to change your pruning behaviour to control node length and refinability, but not for a few years yet. If you trunk chopped I wouldn’t bother with partial defoliation either.


Hi Silva,

You guessed correct I am in the Southern Hemisphere (Australia).

I do want to develop primary branching thanks for clearing my train of thought I guess I was focusing to greatly on fine details instead of just laying out primary structure and keeping it as simple as that. I will adjust my pruning methods in a few years once my primary structure is in check.

Thanks again, Chris.