This is a photo, left, of my Sargent crabapple tree. It is around 4 years old. I got it as a sapling from the Arbor Foundation. As you can see, it has a u-shaped crotch and no central leader. Should I stake it so that it might straighten out or try to remove one of the two main branches to create a central leader?
The Gardener’s Answer
I should start by saying that I’m not a certified arborist, and I wanted to double check with one before giving you pruning advice. He confirmed my initial thoughts and suggests pruning back the branch on the left and training the one on the right to become the central leader.
You can take the left branch back all the way or remove most of it and leave it as smaller side shoot. Trees that develop co-dominant stems, like yours, are not as structurally sound as a single-trunked tree. Proper pruning of a young tree is essential to a healthy long-lived one. Crabapples are no different.
For pictures and detailed information on proper pruning techniques, click here. This publication is available from our Cooperative Extension Service.