Training fruit trees to an open center

Use this method to grow a shorter tree

Also described as bowl shaped or vase shaped, an open-center tree has no central leader. Instead, several main limbs angle outward from the top portion of a short trunk. A tree trained in this fashion can be kept shorter than it would be if trained to a central leader or modified central leader.

1. At planting, head back the trunk to 2 or 3 feet high (or even lower, if desired). Remove all other shoots.

2. In the first dormant season, choose three to five scaffold branches spiraling around the trunk and having at least 6 inches of vertical space between them. Head back the branches to 2 to 3 feet in length.

3. In the second dormant season, choose two strong lateral branches on each scaffold branch and cut back the scaffolds to the chosen laterals. Head back the laterals to 2 to 3 feet, to force additional branching.