This orange tree produces wonderful oranges in large quantity. I just noticed that its double-trunk structure is due to a sucker that was allowed to grow and nearly take over. The two trunks form a balanced shape and the tree is productive.
The two trunks are of similar sizes, but most of the tree's canopy is from the orange tree (I do not know the variety). The rootstock sucker has branches and leaves higher up and does not appear to produce fruit. Based on a cursory look at the leaves off of the rootstock sucker, it could be a Trifoliate / bitter orange (it also has thorns). The rootstock has its first branches at a height of about 7ft/2m and most of its canopy is at the highest point, where it is inconspicuous (We moved to this property about a year ago, until now I thought it was a cute double-trunk tree, as I hadn't noticed a graft line and the trifoliate leaves higher up).
Here are three possible courses of action (please suggest others):
- Cut the root sucker all the way back to the graft line: Looks like this could seriously affect the tree's overall balance.
- Leave the root sucker, but control its growth by frequent pruning.
- Cut back to a height of 7ft/2m (so the tree's balance won't be affected) and graft one or several orange scions to direct nutrients to fruit production.
QUESTION: What are the pros and cons of letting the rootstock have branches and a canopy as opposed to cutting it back as far as possible? What course of action do you recommend? I'm leaning towards 3.
The overall aspect of the tree: Is that about ten years old, would you say? (the red brick line is at about 6ft/1m80)
The double trunk: Is that the graft line we see on the photo or is it buried further down? The rootstock is the one on the left.
The first branch on the rootstock: At a height of 7ft/2m, the biggest branch is not huge. I'm thinking of cutting this and other branches higher up to graft the scion in its place.
The leaves of the trifoliata:
The leaves of the scion:
We were lucky to harvest hundreds of these guys: