J. Red Pine candles already opened

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J. Red Pine candles already opened

Post  mrcasey on Thu May 02, 2013 4:07 am

Because the practice is often referred to as "candling", I always assumed that the work would
involve actual candles with needles barely elongated and bundled closely to the
new branch. On my Japanese Red Pine, though, some of the candles are already 3" long and needles
have opened away from the branch. At this rate, there won't be any candles in late June - only new
branch extensions with fully elongated needles. Does this mean that my candling will amount to pruning this spring's branch extensions?

Casey
z6

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Re: J. Red Pine candles already opened

Post  Marty Weiser on Thu May 02, 2013 4:54 am

I suggest you break them off to an appropriate length. I have found that for moderate strength pines (P. densiflora, P. sylvestris, P. heldreichii) that breaking candles that are still emerging is about the same as breaking them as they elongate. Fully emerged candles do not react quite as well, but this early in the season there may be time for a second flush. Others may have different experience. - Marty

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Re: J. Red Pine candles already opened

Post  0soyoung on Thu May 02, 2013 6:58 am

mrcasey,

The short version is "don't panic".

Japanese Red pines can be treated pretty much like Japanese black pines. With JBP one cuts off the entire candle/new-shoot at a time that leaves about 100 growing days to go in the season. Along the coast this is circa 4 July as far north as the San Francisco Bay area. Other areas will be earlier. Usually the 'winter candle' hasn't extended nor have the new needles hardened at that time (certainly in my case neither has occurred), so the technique is primarily aimed at producing shorter needles. Decandling after the new needles have hardened (dark green color, tips are stiff and pointy, and the needle stays attached with a little tug) will very effectively induce back budding.

The situation you describe doesn't seem unusual to me. My JRP candles are a little bit more than 2 inches long and needle tips are just becoming defined. I will wait until late May cut off all the candles/new-shoot this year. I'm still in the process of homing in on the correct timing for my location. If done too soon, one gets the same (standard/natural) length needles. Last year I candled too late and got some new growth with needles less than 1 inch long but mostly just buds to become this year's winter candles (in other words, loss of a year in ramification development).

I finished breaking candles a couple of weeks ago. I do it to balance the candle pairs and balance the candle development around the tree. Ryan Neil and others seem to say that breaking candles on JWP and other single flush species helps to induce back budding, but I am not yet convinced. Candles, like all developing leaves, should be auxin sinks. They contain high concentrations of auxin, but it is being used within the candle for elongation and likely does not enter the transport stream to the roots (until the new needles have hardened). So breaking the candle tips off shouldn't do anything for back budding. But my understanding is always subject to change - there could very well be more than just auxin playing an important role. Trees will do what the do regardless of my understanding of how they work.

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Re: J. Red Pine candles already opened

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