Big Difference Between ‘Decandling’ and ‘Breaking’ Pine Shoots…

Michael Hagedorn

There’s a storm of confusion around these two techniques…and it’s one of those things we don’t want to get wrong. Pines take a couple years to get back on track, once off track, and so they make us look at our mistakes for a long time.

I’ll try to make this short and sweet. For starters, how do we distinguish decandling from breaking/pinching?

Breaking/Pinching means taking part of the shoot off, usually with fingers, as the shoot is extending in early to mid-spring. This is before the needles have come out.

DSC_0605 Scots pine candles, before pinching.

DSC_0606 With the fleshy part of the fingers, pinch the candle according to its strength, taking more off for stronger ones, less for weaker, none for weakest.

DSC_0607 Right candle pinched approximately in half.

DSC_0608 Left candle pinched.

Decandling means cutting off the entire pine candle off in late spring. Often the new needles have come out already.

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