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    Why a bountiful fruit tree in your garden is a delight until it isn’t
    • May 4, 2024

    Q. About 3 1/2 years ago we planted a Fuyu Persimmon tree from a local nursery near Moreno Valley. It grew rather quickly, and last year, there was a large quantity of beautiful, tasty persimmons. However, the yield was heavy enough that a couple of the larger branches broke off. Toward the end of the season, we tied up some of the branches to the stake. Now, this year, over the early spring, most of the upper branches are brittle, gray, and frankly, dead. To my surprise, there is one healthy-looking tree stem with green leaves low on the tree where it bifurcates into branches. Everything above appears to be dead. Should I cut back everything above the green stem and wait a couple of years to see if it returns, or just remove the tree and bid it adieu? 

    Most fruit trees, persimmons included, can end up overbearing once they approach maturity. This might seem like a good thing since you’re getting a lot of fruit. The problem is that the fruit may not be the highest quality since the tree has only so much energy to put into fruit production. Fruit can end up being smaller and not as sweet as it could be. Another issue is branch breakage, which is what you’ve found out.

    Thinning fruit may be tedious, but it is essential for your tree’s health. Once the flowers are gone and you see itty bitty fruit, go ahead and start pulling them off. Be ruthless! Leave at least 6 inches (and preferably more) between each fruit. This will take several passes since there’s always one or two branches that get missed.

    If an overloaded branch breaks, but the fruit is nearly ripe, sometimes you can salvage the fruit by propping up the branch. Hopefully there’s enough energy in the leaves and branch to allow the fruit to ripen. If not, well, it was worth a shot. Once the fruit has been harvested, remove the broken branch.

    In your case, it sounds like there was considerable damage to most of the branches. The low branch may produce fruit eventually, but it is likely to be coming from the rootstock. I recommend removing this tree and replacing it.

    Q. At what point should tree stakes be removed? I’ve seen some trees in my neighborhood that are pretty big but are still staked.

    Trees should be loosely staked when they’re young and newly planted. Allowing the tree some sideways movement will make the trunk thicker and stronger so it can stand up without help after a year or two. If the trunk is bigger than the stakes, or if the stakes have been pulled up out of the ground by the tree, it’s time to remove them.

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    ​ Orange County Register