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AndyJ

Very old pear tree (dying gracefully?)

Question

My very old pear tree is on its last legs. I’d like to cut it back significantly for less shade and less bird droppings on vegetables below. I’d prefer to let it die gracefully rather than cut it down altogether. Any advice on what and where to cut?

Photos

Many thanks, Andy

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What a fantastic old tree . Shame  it is where it is .  Some of those cavities would look good with some daffodil bulbs planted in them .

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1 hour ago, Rough Hewn said:

Personally I'd cut it 2" above the lowest set of leaves on the trunk in picture 1.
Before it falls over.
emoji106.png

Why? I had an apple tree in the garden of my old place that looked like that, it still produced apples, not many but some, and the woodpeckers loved it. Plenty of room to blow over mind.

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Fruit trees can look old and gnarly but still live well. They like being worked. Say it’s fifteen feet tall now. I’d knock it down a foot or so a year for five years and thin selectively to let light and air though and I bet it comes back fighting. You’ll then have a tree you can pick and prune from a three foot step. Just wade in.

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I sometimes say to people if you ask three tree surgeons you can somehow end up with four opinions.

I would be cautious, fruit trees which are regularly cut do seem to thrive on it but on the other hand sometimes old fruit trees just suddenly die.

My take, I doubt you can reduce it hard without it dying so I would prune to maintain about that size. It looks like at about 7 foot up the stems get thinner, you can selectively remove one or two branches per year at that height or just above.

Or decide that's it and plant some new ones spaced out ready for the day it falls apart.

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Thanks everyone. 

 

I definitely don’t want to fell it. I also understand that anything that I do too aggressively could lead to its more rapid decline. 

 

I’ll have a go at taking a little off the top and thinning a bit, but where I’m most confused is the large amount of dead wood at the front of the tree. If you look at where the trunk branches into three, there is only any live growth from the one at the back. So the majority of the front of the tree is brittle dead branches and twigs.

 

How much of this should I remove? Or do I need to be conservative in removing this dead wood as well?

 

I plan to get my ladders out later and make a start, so I can send updated photos or do this cautiously, step by step.

 

Thanks again for any further advice you may have.

Andy

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10 hours ago, Dan Maynard said:

I sometimes say to people if you ask three tree surgeons you can somehow end up with four opinions.

I would be cautious, fruit trees which are regularly cut do seem to thrive on it but on the other hand sometimes old fruit trees just suddenly die.

My take, I doubt you can reduce it hard without it dying so I would prune to maintain about that size. It looks like at about 7 foot up the stems get thinner, you can selectively remove one or two branches per year at that height or just above.

Or decide that's it and plant some new ones spaced out ready for the day it falls apart.

No.... Thats three Rabbis... Tree surgeons  2 stupid opinions an one just does what he likes. K

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Would be a shame to fell it.

There is another option....

When I look at that tree, I see the heArtwood has nearly all rotted away.
Structurally unsound, will fall over.
I've had very old pear trees in my orchard break at 12-18" and then root whilst the tree is on the floor.
(Sapwood still connected to base)
Still producing pears.

I suggest maybe...
A couple of small cuts around the rotten base area, then pull the whole tree over, trim it tidy, then let it carry on.

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Quote

If you look at where the trunk branches into three, there is only any live growth from the one at the back.

 

 

I see what you mean now thought the lichen on the two dead branches was buds ?

 

You can lop thoose off and it may resprout

Edited by Stere

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