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Photo by Jessica Walliser
Our Lapins cherry tree is leaning, so I’ll need to carefully implement a staking system without hurting the tree or making it too dependent on the stake.
Our little fruit trees are doing quite well this year. Although they’re only 6 years old, we are already getting a few pieces of fruit on some of them. Our Liberty apple has seven apples hanging from its branches, the Avalon Pride peach has about a half dozen fruits clinging to the tree, and last week we were able to harvest ten cherries from our Lapins cherry. They were delicious!
When we planted our fruit trees, we selected varieties known to be disease resistant in our Pennsylvania garden. The Lapins cherry was also chosen because it is a self-fertile sweet cherry selection—meaning we only need one tree to produce fruit.
I intentionally purchased a Lapins that was grafted onto a Gisela 5 dwarfing rootstock in hopes that we won’t need to perch on top of a 10-foot ladder to harvest the fruits in a few years. An old neighbor of ours had a Lapins cherry at his farm, and I can’t say enough about the flavor of this variety, not to mention the fact that the fruits are crack resistant—an important trait here in the east, where we often have periods of drought followed by deluges of rain (the perfect conditions for fruit crack). The ripe cherries are a beautiful, dark red, and they are as sweet as can be.
The trouble we are having with our Lapins cherry is that it is growing crooked. As a sapling, it had a forked trunk with two separate branches. Since then, one of the branches has died and now the tree is leaning heavily towards the remaining branch. Now that the fruit has been harvested, I’m going to set to work staking the tree and forcing it to begin to grow more upright—a task easier said than done.
Staking trees is careful business. You don’t want to create a situation where the tree is dependant on the stake for support, nor do you want to damage the trunk by “bending” it too far in one direction or the other. I’m going to make this a gradual process, putting the stake in and loosely tying it with a padded cable. I plan to tighten the cable a bit more each year until the tree is growing upright, but I need to be careful to not leave the staking system in place for too long or the trunk will not be strong enough to stand without it. It will be quite a trick if I can manage to pull it off.
In the meantime, if you are planting young trees of your own, be sure to plant them so the trunk is as straight as possible