Fruit Tree Care: Controlling Suckers and Water Sprouts

Fruit tree care comes with many challenges, particularly for new gardeners. Without close attention, insects, diseases and environmental issues can all affect production.

The same goes for suckers and water sprouts. These vigorous new growth types take much-needed energy away from fruit trees, which can lead to a reduced yield.

Fruit Tree Care Controlling Suckers and Water Sprouts

What Are Tree Suckers and Water Sprouts?

While the terms are often used interchangeably, water sprouts and suckers are two types of undesirable tree growth. They often show up after overpruning or excessive watering, such as might occur with flood irrigation or a big storm, or when the tree experiences stress.

Suckers are shoots that originate at the root system, popping up near ground level. Water sprouts are quite similar in nature and appearance, but these growths appear above ground, stemming from the trunk or branches.

How Do You Remove Tree Suckers and Water Sprouts?

Certified arborists recommend removing suckers and sprouts as quickly as possible. These growths are considered invasive, as they can affect both fruit yield and overall tree health.

To remove a sucker, use pruners to cut the shoot at a 45-to-60-degree angle. Take care not to damage the trunk, but try to remove as much of the growth as you can. If necessary, move some of the underlying soil to make your cut at the base of the sucker.

The process of removing a water sprout is much the same. Simply use a sharp cutting tool to prune away the shoot close to the trunk or branch. For faster healing, try not to leave much of a stub behind.

Spring is the best time to remove suckers and sprouts, but unusual new growths can crop up at any time during the growing season. If you see any unwanted shoots, don’t hesitate to grab the pruners and cut them away.

Can You Prevent Fruit Tree Suckers and Water Sprouts?

Unwanted tree growth generally appears as a response to stress, such as disease, insect infestation, drought or overwatering. For the best chance at prevention, fruit tree care experts recommend eliminating as many sources of stress as possible.

Keep your trees in good health, making sure they’re properly watered and fertilized, and unwanted growths are less likely to become a problem. In addition, be sure to prune regularly — but don’t overprune, as that can stimulate the development of sprouts and suckers.

Regular tree health evaluations from an experienced certified arborist can help prevent problematic new growth. For expert advice in the greater Salt Lake City area, turn to the professionals at Reliable Tree Care. We have the expertise and skill to manage and prevent many tree health problems, including water sprouts and suckers. To schedule a free, no-hassle comprehensive yard evaluation and fruit tree care consultation, contact our Murray office today.