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Two Systems Of Pruning.—There are two systems in vogue, one known as high pruning, the other as low pruning. Low pruning is resorted to with lemons and the dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties of budded oranges. It consists simply in forming the head of the tree close to the ground—say within a foot or two of the surface—and modeling the growth somewhat after a shrub. The high system prunes away the branches near the ground, exposing the trunk and forming a conventional tree top. This method is employed with nearly all seedling trees that grow to the standard size, and with a considerable portion of the lemons and budded oranges.
The Low System. —The advantages claimed for this method of pruning are—
1st. That the head of the tree being brought close to the ground, the picking of the fruit is greatly facilitated.
2d. That the trunk is closely shaded, thereby preventing sunburn and other evils coming from too much exposure to the weather.
3d. That the soil immediately about the tree is shaded and the moisture thus preserved.
With this method of pruning also the branches are usually "shortened in" and this results in a fourth advantage in that the fruit is borne closer to the body of the tree, and the branches being rendered stocky from the cutting back, are not likely to break down with their burden. The tree with low head and shortened branches needs no props in the fruiting season. This method of low pruning is much employed at Riverside, in San Bernardino county, where many of our most progressive orange growers are to be found. The exemplification there given must certainly convince one of its advantages in the respects claimed. For semi-dwarf and dwarf-budded orange trees, low pruning is the system I would recommend. The objection usually urged against it is the difficulty of working close to the tree with the cultivator, by reason of the low-hanging branches. This can be obviated by choosing a cultivator to meet the special requirements. An evil to be guarded against is the thickening of the top—the great multiplication of branches as a reult of the shortening process .
This difficulty may be overcome by a free use of the knife, keeping the top open enough to admit a circulation of air, and the tree will then be as healthy as though the top were four or five feet higher and proportionately broader. In the case of lemons, the theory has been advanced that they bear much better with low pruning than with high, as this manner of growth must closely conform to the natural habit of the tree. It should be borne in mind that low pruning does not contemplate an abandonment of the tree to its own sweet will and way in growing. Neither is it allowable to leave suckers from the roots or water sprouts from the lower trunk. As close and careful attention is required in low pruning as in high.
High Pruning — Young Stock. — In pruning young stock by the high system it is well to make haste slowly—i. e., cut away the lower branches only as the tree thickens its stock and throws its vitality into the upper top. It is conceded that about the proper proportion for a standard tree is two-thirds top and one-third stock. With quite young trees the proportion of top may be greater than this with good advantage. Lateral branches growing close to the ground have a tendency to thicken the stock and make it upright and selfsustaining. Above all, avoid trimming young trees up to mere switches, with just a tuft of leaves at the top. There can "be no more certain method of making them crooked and weakly. As good a general rule as I can lay down is, to keep the tree well proportioned and symmetrical at all stages of its growth. After the first year in orchard, the two-thirds rule as regards the top may be closely followed. The main forks of the tree may be established at the height of four to six feet from the ground with seedlings and at three to four feet with budded varieties. Remember that the trunk of the tree grows but very little longitudinally and that the height of the top must be regulated by cutting away the lower branches. If a standard tree is properly and reasonably pruned, the contour of the top when viewed from a distance will be not unlike the almost perfect sphere of the fruit it bears.
Pruning—Implements Required.—A pair of gloves to protect the hands from the thorns; a sharp knife, a small saw, and some paint or wax to cover the stubs of large branches; this is the outfit for a pruner. The pruning shears are much in use, but I do not like them except for clipping the ends of branches. When applied to severing a branch at the trunk, they leave a stub which is not to be tolerated, and if this be pared away by the knife the work is doubled. If one prunes his trees from their youth up, he grows in knowledge with them, so to speak, and while they are never much at fault, he is never at great loss to know how they should be treated. But to undertake the pruning of older trees which have been allowed to grow half wild, and bring them to a state of civilization—there's the rub. It is vastly better, of course, that they should never reach that vexatious stage, but when such is the case there is nothing for it but heroic treatment. When Governor Stoneman purchased his estate in San Gabriel, fifteen or twenty years ago, the grove of old oranges on the place was almost unproductive. He sent his foreman into it with knife and saw, under instructions to prune out half of the tops. After performing his task the man reported to the Governor, stating by the way that he though he had ruined the trees. Governor Stoneman took a look at the orchard and sent him back to prune still further. The result was that the next year there was a fine crop of oranges.
Pruning Young Trees.—The best plan is to go over them quite frequently—as much as three or four times a year—and prune lightly each time.
Time Of Pruning.—Whenever the tree is in a dormant condition it may be pruned advantageously. December is a popular time for this work; also late in the spring before the heavy July - August growth commences, and iust following the gathering of the oranges.
Thumn Pruning.—This consists of rubbing off with thumb or finger shoots before they form any woody fiber. The practice is quite allowable, and indeed to be commended under certain restrictions. On general principles, it conduces more to the welfare of the tree to stop an undesir
able limb before it has made much growth than to let it grow on only to be sacrificed at last with greater shock and loss of vitality to the tree. But I would advise great conservatism in pruning young trees just starting. This is a critical time with the tree and it needs a breathing surface. If the leaves which it throws out for this purpose should happen to be in the wrong place, it is often better to leave them until the tree gets it breath, i. e., hardens its new growth and makes other leaves to elaborate its sap. Anything approaching a general pruning of an orange tree while making new growth should be avoided, as the operation is likely to check all further growth for that period and may stunt the tree.
Pruning Older Trees.—The novice looking at a neglected tree, with its tangle of branches, is dumbfounded with the task of pruning. Let him but go at the work systematically, however, and he will find the plan of the mighty maze.
A Few Rules For Pruning.—1st. Begin at the ground and cut away all suckers growing from the crown of the roots. Dig, if necessary, to the place where the sucker issues from the root and cut away the little protuberance from which the sprout grows.
2d. Cut away all water-sprouts growing from the trunk of the tree. Remove the knots or little protuberances here also, paring smooth with the trunk.
3d. Work along the trunk into the top of the tree, and cut away all small, dwarfed branches which have neither vitality to make a large growth nor room to make it in.
4th. Lop off such main branches as throw the top out of equilibrium or destroy its symmetry.
5th. Cut away all minor branches that are superfluous. Consider a branch superfluous (a) when it crosses another or conflicts with another in any way; (&) when it grows directly above another, and would at some future time, conflict it; (c) when there are parallel branches too close together, a part must be taken away; (d) when a number of branches have put out from the end of a shortened limb, one, two or three only should be left.
6th. Having thinned the top sufficiently
from within, survey it externally and lop off the ends of such branches as destroy the regularity of outline.
A tree thus thinned out admits a free circulation of air, which is as good in a sanitary point of yiew as fresh air for an individual. The tree is then able to cope with its enemy the scale and smut, and its fruit is cleaner, larger and better therefor.
Hints Arout The Work,—In cutting a limb of good size, the neatest method is to saw it from below, raising the limb gradually so that it shall not pinch the saw. In this way a smooth cut may be made close to the body of the tree and there is no dan
ger that the limb in falling may strip off a portion of bark from the trunk. If the limb must be sawed from above, first cut the bark below to avoid the tearing away referred to.
Do not leave a stub of a limb protruding from the trunk or a main branch. Cut smooth and close up in order that the bark may readily close over the wound.
In cases where limbs of half an inch 01 more in diameter are sawed, it is a good plan to daub the cut surface with paint or grafting wax to prevent it from drying out and checking.
In one respect the orange growers of California are behind the times. They cultivate thoroughly, irrigate scientifically and appreciate the value of good pruning; they know the book of insect pests from Genesis to Exodus; they grow, the best fruit of the best varieties known; they gather freely and in riches increase and multiply, but they do not replenish the earth. By this single dereliction they approve themselves short-sighted, improvident — gathering for themselves to impoverish their children; building for a day, not for all time.
There are old orange groves in Los Angeles county that scarcely pay the cost of cultivation;—trees in a semi-dormant condition the greater part of the time, with leaves of a sickly yellow color and fruit small, leathery of pulp and lacking in flavor. These trees have been undergoing a process of starvation for ten, fifteen or twenty years. It is a wonder that they have maintained the unequal struggle so long. Indeed, had it not been for the degree of fertilization which comes from the application of water in repeated irrigations they would probably have succumbed long ago. It is not in reason that any soil can sustain the continual demand made upon it for the formation of a larger tree
and the annual production of a crop of fruit without becoming exhausted. Groves in this impoverished condition need to be renovated, first by a heavy pruning of the trees, and second by a thorough renewal of the soil. With this stimulus the trees will make a new start and regain their former productiveness.
In Florida, and in most other countries where orange growing is prosecuted as a scientific industry, much attention is paid to fertilizing. Rev. T. W. Moore, in his work on orange culture in Florida, says:
"No crop feeds more ravenously than the orange, and none will convert so large an amount of suitable fertilizers into fruit so profitably. Much of our Florida land will produce and sustain fine trees for a few years without the aid of manure; but after some years of fruiting the leaves will begin to turn yellow, indicating a deficiency in the soil." He then discusses the various fertilizers in use, naming the commercial compounds of ground bone, potash and sulphuric acid, Peruvian guano, land plaster, green crops turned under, stable manure, and swamp muck.
In California not one of these fertilizers is in use, unless it be stable manure in exceptional instances. The reason that our fruit growers have paid so little atten