Christmas tree farming: How to tie tops during Christmas tree shearing. Correcting multiple leaders

Okay today we’re going to be tying tops Of trees uh we’re probably going to be Showing you mostly nobles they take a Little bit more work than the grand First The grands are pretty easy this tree is One that’s going to need a lot of it A lot of work as well so the tools that You need you need to have pruners with You I always keep mine in a holster every Day of the year 365 days a year I’m walking around with this thing on my Hip because i have Berries and whatnot on my property you Need sticks I keep just a bunch of my back pocket my Partner who’s Recording right now has a tool belt that Has them in there And then you need twist ties i just keep Them in the back pocket I’ll show you more of these this is a 10 Inch twist tie we’ve used eight inch in The past but sometimes eight inches just A little bit short So we have 10 inch twist tie today Sticks that i cut in my garage And the pruners and you’re ready to go To work Okay one thing you’re gonna notice is There’s no consistency we’re gonna do Several different trees None of them are going to be alike and

No two trees are going to be alike so When we’re shearing You know we’re just creating that 40 45 Degree angle and just cutting lines That’s easy Tops are not easy you got to figure out This bud’s going this way this one’s Going that way what can i turn up What can i leave with a uh trying to get A terminal bud and something that’ll Grow Straight up next here yeah i’ll try to Point out some Several things today on things that we Do but it’s one of those things that No tree is going to be exactly like the Ones that i’m doing today So these are concepts and ideas on how To tie up a branch And how to leave a bud so that will be Pointing up next year and hopefully you Don’t have to tie the same tree year After year after year Here’s a couple things when tying tops On Christmas trees number one they do have A hormone that says we need to have Something going straight up so if you Uh cut the tops they’re going to try to Send stuff up usually they’re going to Send multiple So you the tree is going to send Something up If you be careful when you cut a top of

A tree because once you cut it it’s Going to try to create multiple leaders If it does remember you get one branch Growing vertical everything else is Supposed to be mostly horizontal cut the Rest off No two trees are alike this is not like Shearing christmas trees where you just Cut the angles And then make it symmetrical Every top is going to be different it’s Actually more of an art than a science But you just need to understand The chemistry of the tree We’re doing the tops now while the in Early are mid july when the tops are Still flexible and we can tie them on We will come back and shear these and Get the shape but we we’re getting the Top that we’re going to shear to Done now and that’s the priority Shearing can be done For another month easily tops you got to Do it before the tops get too hard Take time to do it right you’re going to Be up and down a ladder you’re going to Tie it You need to tie it tight you’re going to It’s going to probably require at least Two ties on the bottom trunk and then Two up here Sometimes more but tie it tight and when People come in and shear it’s going to Be rattling

And you don’t want that top to Fall out so just keep you know tie it Nice and tight do a good job The other thing is we need to know you Need to know is So christmas trees are never truly Dormant They’re continuing to put caliper or Thickness on their trunk Throughout the year and they’re Hardening so we are going to tie these Off They will continue to get slightly Thicker and They will harden in this shape and then We can cut them off This fall right before we harvest and You do want to make sure You know when we leave these on and we Wait Sometimes we just let the customers pick The tree With the top still tied we cut it down We need to make sure we cut this off Before we put on the shaker because Sometimes We still have the top there we put it on The shaker and the egg This breaks off and then we’ve got the Extra weight of the Stick and it pulls the top of the tree Off and now we’ve got A beautiful tree that has flipped the Top off and it’s no longer beautiful

So even if you leave the top the Tie on there right up till it’s been cut Down Make sure you cut this off before you Put it on the shaker Grand first get new tops easily so do Doug’s Nobles and nordman’s are much harder to Get this top to grow up straight so You know if you want 10 inches of Leader and you have 12 but it’s got a Terminal bud and a whirl Leave the 12. okay but if if you need if You want it Six inches eight inches a foot shorter Then go ahead and cut it but if you’re Only going to shorten it a little bit It’s not worth losing its natural leader We’ll start off with a reasonably easy One but it does need to be tied here’s a Seven foot tall tree approximately seven Foot tall the Pretty full the leader is about the Height that i want so i’m probably not Going to have to cut it but it’s just Not Straight so we’re going to get this Thing Straight up it tried to grow it’s it’s a Leader that was cut the year before And so sometimes they have difficulty Growing up from the beginning so First thing i’m going to position my Stick against the trunk of the tree

And i have to tie it down twice so you Need at least actually Before i tie it off we want to get rid Of these extras so The tree gets one liter or one branch Growing straight Up so i’m going to find the any part This is vertical get it out This is trying to become a leader it Needs to get out This one that’s trying to grow up i’m Just going to find an outward facing bud On this one and leave it here and i’ll Go ahead and look at these find some Buds that are pointing out And i’ll get rid of that get rid of that So on each of these that i’m clipping Around the top i’m Finding an outward facing bud and Leaving it there this whole thing this Growing up i’m going to get it out And this branch that’s growing inward Across the middle That’s going to go out so i got that out There now I’m just going to simply tie this thing Straight up i’m going to go down the Trunk And i’m going to tie with a twist tie Down here low And it takes several twists to get the Tie tight to the tree If you’re not going to tie it tight to The tree you’re just wasting your time

Uh get it so that it’s firm in there These these uh sticks need to be in There for Until almost harvest time so They need to be able to stand up to the Wind birds flying around so give it Several good twists And once i get the stick tight in here Now i’m gonna It’s gonna this one’s gonna take two Ties on the top as well I’m gonna first tie it back to getting Straight up And then that’s because there was a bend In the top it’s going to Shoot it over there so then i’m going to Tie it up straight again And to get this thing going straight up So My lower tie to start it in the right Direction And then i’ll straighten this out and do A higher tie So that we have a leader that’s growing Straight up and down now fortunately for Us This one’s not too terribly long i might Actually like to have a little bit Shorter But uh unless i’m going to take several Inches off i’m hesitant to cut The top of the leader because with this One it’s got a terminal bud meaning one That wants to grow straight up

And it’s got four or five other buds Around it so it’s going to make a nice Full whirl If i was to cut this top and take a few Inches off which would be ideal for the Height of the tree Now i’m going to have no top whirl and I’m going to have a bud that’s going to Want to start out the side and then turn Up And i’ll have to tie it again next year So hopefully by not Cutting the top world the very top of The tree i’ve got a terminal bud And the whirl’s still there okay We’re gonna start into one that could be A really frustrating tree uh there’s so Many different things that happen on the Top so this Top was cut last year and then you can See these were the buds that were left And it grew out Sideways this one is Already gotten too stiff that i don’t Know if we’d be able to tie it up Straight and then we’d have to cut it Again So oh this is not going to be we’re not Even going to tie this top up what we’re Going to do As you can see in here tight that There’s a bud right in here near the Center this one’s going to grow straight Up

And possibly this one too so we’re going To take Off everything sometimes we do this We’ll take off everything on the top And if it’s got buds in here tight these Are going to try to grow straight up From the inside And then we’re going to choose there Will probably be a mess Of leaders coming up and we’ll choose The right one And while we’re at it since this one’s Trying to grow up I’m gonna go ahead and just pin this one To the trunk Pull it in tight so that it shoots it Straight up And hopefully actually i’m hoping that This one does it because again We’ve got a terminal bud in the middle That should be a leader And we’ve got four buds to create a Whirl and this will create a very full Tree if it grows it’s got a but several Buds right here Hopefully these will grow out and fill In the trunk here You might think that this looks bad with A trunk and then the second one But once this tree grows another foot And all these branches fill in Nobody will ever see that there’s A double trunk here for just a little Bit okay

Obviously you don’t want that in longer Sections or the very End top but this is going to fill in and You you will just see beautiful branches Here And hopefully a nice straight top here Okay So we are in mid-july and it’s uh you Can share christmas trees from My grandfather taught me from the 4th of July on It’s very the shearing of the main body You know it’s not quite as critical that You do the exact right Time you know you could do it now until Later in the year you could still get The shearing done but tying the tops Is really critical on when you get it Done and i want to show you why so This is a grand fur top so if they get If it’s grown out sideways this is the Trunk and we want it to grow up straight If it’s gotten too hard and you try to Bend it back in You’re gonna snap it at the base and You’re gonna lose the leader Or it’s just going to be so firm that You’re not going to be able to tie it Back in And so we had early on when we started First started Tying tops on christmas trees we had Trouble with that so we thought we’re Going to do it a lot earlier

And so one of what we did is we went Very early july When the tree was still growing and so In case you don’t know If this wood is woody last year’s growth And then this is the new year’s growth The terminal bud opens up and it starts Growing and it adds cells to the bottom And it keeps moving up so it adds cells Here and keeps pushing Up and so what we did we made the Mistake We thought oh we’ll be smart when it’s Still really flexible and soft We’ll tie this the leader up But then what happened is the tree kept Growing and it kept pushing up and kept Pushing up And we ended up with a bowed top because We tied The top straight up before it was done Growing So you you gotta you want to do it while It’s still flexible and pliable But you can’t do it when it’s still Sending adding cells to the Base of that and growing up so for us Here in the pacific northwest Uh the second week of july tends to be About the best but you know we had a Really hot summer And we’re noticing that some of the Nobles are really getting stiff And so we’re gonna have to work them

Pretty hard All right so here’s another thing you Have to consider not just the top this Is a beautiful straight top and we would Love to leave it But this tree is not growing very full We need to slow down the growth height Wise so that The body can fill up plus you can see we Have a lot of branches here In this section this we let it grow 16 Inches last year But we got to give these time this will Fill in nicely If we give it time but we can’t let it Run another Uh what do we got about another 16 Inches up there this is More like 18 inches so we need to pull This back to a lower bud i wish there Was more buds lower here but it doesn’t Have a ton of buds But there is a bud here uh one two three Right around here and one right on top Of that so we could We’ll get a good leader out of one of These and hopefully these other ones Will grow into more of a whirl So i am going to cut just above this One that’s above the grouping where um I angle away i cut so the buds on this Side so i cut up towards it It’ll want to grow up that direction so I cut this as far

Back as i could and leaving Buds to grow a top world i wish i really Would have liked to have had a bud down Here but this Tree doesn’t even have buds down here And then again I’m gonna cut usually while i’m doing Tops i’m going to trim back the top Whirl With my pruners finding an outward Facing bud And leaving it there so by shortening This leader We’re going to let this tree fill out Okay Here’s a tree that’s not going to be fun To work and it’s going to be hard to Find the right one but Just know this is what’s going to happen This Is one of those trees why you if you can Leave Those straight top without cutting You want to leave it because once you Cut the top which this was sometimes The tree just doesn’t figure out how to Grow one up straight And so now we’ve got nothing good up Here And so i’m gonna have to choose one of These to straighten out There’s different things you can look at This one has A terminal bud plus it’s got six other

Buds on the top This one’s got pretty good buds there This one is not straight at all and Doesn’t have as many good buds on the Branch So i know this one is going out Uh this one just isn’t as healthy it got Damaged in the sun so this one’s out So now i’m down to two choices do i want To Use this one which has lots of buds So it’ll make a full tree or do i want This one The truth of the matter is i might tie a Stick in here And tie both of these to it and they’ll Use each other for strength And then by the end of the year We’ll we’ll figure out which one Sometimes they twist and tie Uh twist a little bit throughout season And when we cut the stick out we’ll Figure out which one turned out better And then we’ll leave that one and we’ll Cut the other one off Okay okay i’ve already tied the bottom Tie on here And sometimes when the tree is this Messy on the top you don’t have a Straight trunk to tie into there’s a Branch I mean you want the branches to be full But there’s a branch here branch there In a way so

Finding a straight spot up and down the Trunk Is a challenge i think i found a spot That’s going to Tie it up pretty straight i’m putting The second tie On the trunk right now Again twisted a lot if if you don’t tie It tight enough that it stays there’s no Point spending your time here So both these are bowing out and have a Bow right about here i’m going to pull Both of these back And you’ll see they’ll cross over the Stake for a while But i’m i got to pull them back tight i Got to get them all the way back in Tight to the stake So that they’re centered up there They’re centered up on the Trunk of the tree and that does pull Them across for right now and then i’m Going to pull them back Get me another tie here And now i’m going to tie them up Straight here And they’re going to use each other to Stay tight And the stick that i put in there this One is Trying to bow out a little bit i’m going To tie these two to each other just Gently just to pull that one back in So i’ve on this tree alone i’m using

Five twist ties that’s not unusual This where they’re tying to each other And it’s soft tissue i’m tying very Gently when i’m tying to the stick i’m Tying it in hard And so now everything’s coming up the Trunk again both these leaders have Lots of buds that could potentially be Good side branches and they have a Terminal bud And lots of buds on top for the top Whirl We will want to cut one of these out Before growing season next year So that the buds that are in here will Have room to grow On the one that we leave behind Got it all right this is a real easy Tree as far as having to cut tops We did cut the top leader last year and Then this one did decide to grow up Straight it didn’t grow very long But that’s okay because we didn’t want a Lot of growth but we’ll leave a terminal Bud Up here and it’s got side buds but now We got to get rid of the Extras that are trying to grow up Straight so this one and this one Will come out i need to find an outward Facing bud on this one And hopefully find another outward Facing bud Right down here you probably can’t see

It on the camera but that’s there And then we’ll do the same here So now we’ve got this that’s going to Grow straight up And this one will naturally want to grow Straight up next year so This is going to be nice we won’t be Tying this one next year Okay here’s a tree that was probably About eight feet tall last year And it’s close to 10 feet tall this year It was nice and full Lower and then it hasn’t had a chance to Fill out So again we have to slow down the growth Of this tree one we don’t want it too Tall Although people love to get trees over 10 feet tall In the higher ceiling homes that we have Now but we have to let this fill in or It’s not any good So fortunately we have a branch that’s Coming up fairly straight We’re going to cut off these again on The side finding outward facing buds And there’s plenty of buds on this tree This is a good tree to fill in here These side branches have buds all over The place And then there’s one two three four five Six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve Thirteen fourteen i’ve got 14 buds just Getting to here

So this tree is going to fill in nicely It’s got a little bit of a crook but It’ll grow up straight And so i sometimes these buds Are starting to try to grow already and I can see this one Is turned here on this angle and wanting To shoot straight up and it’s got 13 buds below it so i’m gonna cut this Here that’s only leaving Seven or eight inches okay so this tree Is not taking off now but then All of this with the side buds and each Of these have side buds this Is going to fill out a lot next year and Then this won’t run a ton And if if we want because it’s getting Pretty tall We may let this all fill in and all this Will run out And if the tree gets too tall we’ll just Cut it right back to here potentially And then with this full and this Straight we May have to take off some of these Branches that are filling in but Depending on how Things go we may have to cut back a lot And then recreate this top And not let this tree get too large All right here’s a tree that creates a Unique problem it It has some filling out to do but we had A top that was cut

And there’s all kinds of branches in Here that would make it really hard to Get a stick in here Straight this one could potentially tie Up really straight But i think it’ll be a lot easier you Can See where we cut it off last year these Bright Little uh buds here These are probably got the hormone in it Says they want to grow straight up so if I take out this And take out this i know it’s cutting it Way back but these buds that are Trying to grow after everything else Is set they’re being programmed to grow Straight up so if i Take the stuff out around it this would Be too hard to get a stick in here This will grow up straight next year and It will be Leaving a terminal bud and a whirl so We’re going with that [Music] I’m gonna give it some space So it’s not too crowded up here If the leader has been cut or broken off And there’s nothing growing straight up The trunk the tree knows it It has a hormone that it’s released that Says we need A leader we need a trunk and then so This

Leader has been cut off and so this is Not natural In a noble where we have buds this close To the trunk on the laterals or side Branches But because this tree knows that it Needs a new leader It’s putting out buds close to the trunk And it’s on the top side of the branches So these this one this one and this one Will grow straight up next year And they will try to become leaders Hopefully we have a better one Than those before that but these if i Don’t use them as leaders next year i’ll Probably have to cut out because they Won’t grow as laterals they’re going to Grow straight up This tree is more indicative of what a Normal noble will look like when it’s Got its It grew its natural leader it’s growing Straight up if you come in and look at The side lateral Branches there are not buds for the First several inches They don’t want to be growing their uh Branches on the inside of the tree they Want to spread out if you come out here Further and further You see multiple buds out here where There’s going to get more sunlight That’s where the tree Naturally wants to grow it so this has

Already got a leader So there’s not buds trying to grow up in Here and grow new leaders All the buds are further out on the Laterals or side branches And this tree is going to grow nice and Full if you look at it We have one two three four Five six seven eight nine ten eleven Twelve thirteen forty fifty sixteen Seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty Twenty one two I mean we’ve got a lot of buds on this Uh tree so this is really to grow in Full Here’s what i’m honestly conflicted on Really nice tree A little bit thin up here not bad If there wasn’t sunburn on it this tree Would probably sell this year as is And then you got but then it runs just a Little bit too long but there’s not a Ton of buds here Do i cut this back And then i’m probably going to have a Top that doesn’t want to grow up Straight next year or leave the terminal Bud but there’s only The terminal bud only has a couple For the top whirl so it’s not going to Be real full there It’s not worth cutting back unless You’re going to cut back at least six Inches so

I do have a few buds here for to fill in Whirl And then i have two more buds i’ll leave Here that One of them will become the terminal bud So i am going to cut That right there I’ve been raving about nordman furs and How much we like these trees but the Tops And deal with that is one of the reasons We don’t like nordman’s And they could be a challenge we’re Still figuring this out you can see Here’s This is not unusual for us this bud that We left to be the top Died out or did not grow up the other Buds that were near it grew sideways for Quite a while then grew up These are quite stiff branches they are Hard to tie back Up and then from down lower in the tree The tree is sending out a hormone that Says we need leaders and so a whole Bunch Are coming from down below and so this Is a bear of a tree the one Branch that wants to be a good straight Leader we’ve got Again a terminal bud and several Buds for the world this is a good one But it’s coming Well it’s only from four or five inches

Down the tree so i’m gonna go ahead and Tie this one up And then cut these other ones with Outward facing buds and This here will become My new leader Here’s a nice full tree it’s got the Sunburn but that’ll grow back and then It’s got Way too long of a leader probably two Feet So we want to come back to about eight Inches but the nice thing about this Tree is it’s got Lots of buds i hope the camera is Focusing in on this Uh so there’s multiple buds everywhere So it’s going to fill in as we go Up there’s a little bit of gap between Buds here So i’m going to choose to leave a lot of These buds that’ll grow Sideways and then i’m going to choose This to be My terminal bud right here and i’m going To Cut at an angle from the back side And then it should grow up this way the Trick to getting to grow up straight is Cut as close as you can without making That bud die off And that is a science in itself All right here’s another thing you need To remember i forgot to do this a couple

Times today as you’re going up to a tree This tree needs the tops tied Size it up as you’re going to look at The tree how full is it Does it need to be slowed down can it be Allowed to run Is it too tall and get an idea of how Much Height you want to leave on it because I’ve gone up the tree A couple times today where i’ve gone up And then i’m like okay you get a Completely different perspective of the Tree looking down And i don’t i didn’t remember was this a Full tree was this a thin tree And so you want to do a topping Designed to go with the rest of the tree So remember as you come up to the tree Size up the tree what do i need when i Get to the top and then look to make That top Thanks for joining me on the flanigan Homestead where christmas trees And tying the tops on them are my Business teaching including horticulture Is my job And outdoor projects are my passion