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How to determine age of trees

It is very easy to determine the age of a nursery tree. The age is counted from the budding or grafting. The end of each year's growth is marked by a row of rings or scars around the trunk and branches. To tell the age of a tree, begin at the tip of a branch and follow back to the base of the tree, counting the scale rings. The tree will be one year older than the number of rings. It is best to use the branches at the top.

In trees on which the tips of the branches have been injured or removed, during the summer, some difficulty may be experienced in determining definitely but this method will serve in most cases without difficulty.

The best age at which to plant trees is a much mooted question. The present tendency is to plant trees which are too old. The upper limit of age for an apple tree is three years. Two-year-old trees will be found better than older ones in most cases. The present demand for large trees causes the nurseryman to prune off the side branches along the first and second year's growth, thus in a great many instances spoiling the shape of the tree or at least making it necessary to form the head too high.

Another factor which tends to give inferior trees where they remain long in the nursery is the fact that they are grown very close together, and this forces the branches to grow more in one plane which result is lop-sided trees. The shorter the period the tree passes in the nursery, the more likely it is to be a good tree when the grower receives it.

It is true the younger trees require longer to come into bearing after being planted, but the orchardist can better afford to give them one or two additional years attention and have the opportunity to prune and care for them so they will make first class trees, than to let the nurseryman grow, them for the additional length of time, and have to give the same amount of care later on in trying to change a spoiled tree into a passably good one. It is not the intention to convey the idea that no good three-year-old trees are produced in the nursery.

The two-year-old tree is probably the best for commercial planting, although one-year-olds are very popular with many large growers. The former is a compromise age as the two-year-old is less likely to have been spoiled in the nursery than an older tree, and it saves one year in the orchard before bearing. If, however, suitable two-year-old trees cannot be secured, use the younger trees.