Remove Sprouts From Recently Pruned Trees

June is a critical time to remove those fast growing vertical sprouts that occur after trees are pruned in the fall, winter, or early spring. This is particularly true for fruit trees which have been heavily thinned so light can reach the lower fruiting branches. Sprouts can be quickly and easily snapped off with your fingers when they are soft and flexible. Snapping is preferable to cutting, because it removes tissue which can regrow another water sprout, sometimes in the same growing season. If you wait until fall or winter to remove those sprouts, new ones will grow to replace them next spring. Stop the sprout cycle now. And if you do happen to have more new water sprouts later, snap them off while they are young and soft.

Sprouts growing on the base of the trunk can also be snapped off while young. If they are too big to snap, remove with a knife, sharp shovel or other tool as close to the trunk as possible. Once removed, the base of the trunk can be sprayed with a growth inhibitor called “sucker stopper” or “sprout inhibitor” containing NAA. This is a natural growth hormone which will prevent sprout regrowth for about 3 months. It is available from most full service nurseries and garden stores or can be ordered on line.

Some trees produce sprouts from underground roots away from the tree trunk. These can be killed with lawn weed killer without damaging the tree. Do not use weed killer on sprouts attached to the trunk, because it could damage the tree.

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