“Unlocking a Bountiful Harvest: The Power of Pruning”

by | Jan 22, 2024 | Explore Local | 0 comments

Pruning Trees in Offenburg Leads to Good Harvest

The city of Offenburg in Germany has highlighted the importance of pruning fruit trees during the months of January and February for a bountiful harvest. In a press release, Offenburg reminds residents that pruning not only promotes better fruit production but also allows for easier identification of excess branches and shoots on the now leafless trees.

The trees on Spitalberg, though bare during the winter months, will soon be flourishing with varieties such as “Kaiser Wilhelm,” “Geheimrat Oldenburger,” “Berlepsch,” and “Ulmer Polizeiapfel” from Renchen. Gerhard Schröder, a landscape gardener and chairman of the Ortenauer Streuobst Anbau (FOSA), knows that it’s time for winter pruning when he visits these 40 to 50-year-old apple trees in the Waldbachsenke near Zell-Weierbach. However, Schröder uses more than just a small pair of scissors for this task. To ensure that these old trees, like those in the municipal orchard, continue to bear fruit, he undertakes the pruning work generously and confidently.

Fruit trees in Offenburg
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“According to the Federal Nature Conservation Act, it is only permissible to prune trees, hedges, and shrubs between October and the end of February,” explains Schröder. However, there are exceptions, and in commercial orchards, pruning is allowed year-round. Schröder emphasizes that winter is traditionally the time when gardeners have the most time available to dedicate to pruning. He goes on to explain that the FOSA works in cooperation with the Technical Services Offenburg to maintain the city’s orchards. Streuobstwiesen, or traditional orchards, are known for their rich biodiversity, providing a habitat for up to 5,000 different plant and animal species.

Preservation Through Utilization

Offenburg’s commitment to preserving cultural diversity in apple varieties is also evident through the creation of new orchards. These orchards serve as compensatory measures for new building developments. The FOSA aims to maintain kulturelle Vielfalt (cultural diversity) by ensuring the utilization of these orchards. While Germany boasts between two to 3,000 apple varieties, only a dozen are typically available in supermarkets. However, some of these traditional varieties, which the FOSA promotes, are not only well-tolerated by individuals with apple allergies but also receive regular inquiries from apple enthusiasts.

According to Schröder, one can still find “Goldparmäne” apples in stores, a variety that was available over 50 years ago. Other traditional varieties such as “Dundenheimer Schätzler” or “Kohlenbacher,” also known as “Christkindler,” thrive on Spitalberg as well. Schröder raves about the intense flavor experience when biting into a perfectly ripe “Nägele,” a regional variety. He explains that the juice starts to pour out upon the first bite, creating an indescribable taste sensation.

Schröder has been tending to many of the 140 fruit trees on Spitalberg since his training in the former city horticulture department 37 years ago. He utilizes a combination of large pruning shears and telescopic chainsaws to achieve his goals. Schröder aims to achieve maximum yield with minimal cuts, emphasizing the removal of upward-growing branches. The horizontal branches are the ones responsible for fruit production. He only treats pruning wounds larger than a two-euro coin with protective tree wax or balm.

“Mistletoes, regarded as lucky charms by many, can be a nuisance and can ultimately destroy the trees,” Schröder warns. These parasitic plants attach themselves to the branches and trunk and deplete the trees of nutrients. When Schröder comes across mistletoe, he generously removes the affected branch to prevent further damage. He also emphasizes the importance of disinfecting pruning wounds to prevent the spread of mistletoe to new areas.

Join the Pruning Course

The FOSA, in collaboration with the Technical Services Offenburg, is conducting a pruning course for high-stemmed fruit trees on Saturday, February 3. The course, led by fruit tree consultant Miriam Pfundstein, will take place in the orchard at Spitalberg near Waldbachsenke. Interested individuals can register by email at FOSA-Offenburg@web.de before Thursday, February 1. More information about the course can be found on the FOSA website.

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