When we started the farm in 2011, we planted over 200 fruit trees on Aanandaa. For years we waited for them to grow bigger and give better quality fruit. But we have now learnt, that the size of the tree and the quality of fruit are inversely related to each other! Fruit that grows on 'new wood' needs to be pruned back regularly, to maintain tree height, contain green foliage, and channelise the tree's nutrients into fruit production.
This is true for Guavas. We had a nice grove of guavas, growing big and strong year on year. We never pruned or trimmed the tree, expecting 'the bigger the better' to play out. Only this summer did we realise that a couple of things seemed quite wrong with our trees:
1. The lower portions of the tree were totally bare - all the growth was higher up
2. The fruit was right at the top, quite out of reach
3. The fruit quality was poor, even though quantity was okay
4. The fruit was kind of hard, sour and inedible!
When the tree is not really producing any worthwhile fruit, it's easy to take a decision on cutting it back! We decided to cut back the tree to about 5 feet in height. This meant that we lost almost all the foliage, as the growth was really all the at top. We had a poor monsoon crop on the tree which we simply sacrificed.
We made clean cuts on all the scaffolds with a saw, bringing them back to about 5 feet high. We cut out branches growing straight up and crowding the centre of the tree. This way the tree remains open in the centre, allowing air and light to come come in. This is important to keep the fungal infections out, and allow all parts of the tree to get sunlight. We should have done this every year from the very start and trained the tree appropriately, but then hey, first tome farmers tend to make such mistakes!
Thanks to the rains during the monsoon, the guava trees have already produced fresh green shoots. I am not sure whether this will produce any flowering in the winters. If not, then probably by next year we will be back to producing some good fruit!
Keep reading, we will keep you posted on the quality of fruit this tree produces once its back in production mode!