Friday, February 12, 2021

Branching Cacao Trees

As promised this is a post about all the different ways I have seen and photographed cacao trees branching out.  Of course you have the typical sprout at the connection point of a leaf.  This is the usual way trees branch.  It's a weak point in the structure of the plant and thus an obvious point where trees push out new growth.  It not only keeps the structure going but strengthens the plant in that area.

Similarly I've noticed crepe myrtles doing the same thing. Also if you prevent new growth by brushing off the new green, the plant usually still strengthens the area by making a callous hardness to the stem or branch.  In some trees you can encourage growth by removing lower leaves as the plant grows.  I did this with a fig tree and got the branches to not only get taller but thicker and stronger in a single season of growth.

Also the new growth replaces previous stem areas as in this picture.  This is a case where the top of the tree died back and new growth continued from right next to the area where it used to be.  Now it has produced sucker shoots at the same location, again these start at areas of weak points on a plant but in this case they can actually weaken a tree by taking nutrients to grow stems that usually aren't as strong.

These can still be productive but it's probably a good idea to remove them so the better limbs can be as good as possible.  Do this before they start getting woody for ease of removal and to minimize any potential damage that can be done to the tree.  Cacao trees can easily be damaged especially when harvesting the fruits which is why the fruit is usually harvested with machetes.  This keeps the fruiting pads healthy and productive for the life of the tree. 
This has to be one of the most unusual branching occurrences I've ever seen.  The new growth has started out of an extension of the leaf base which pushed the leaf further from the trunk and made this bendy branch leaf thing.  Again you can see it started at a weak point in the tree where a branch has already occurred.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Claude the Cacao Tree, Repotted

So we finally repotted Claude the Cacao Tree.
So far so good.  It's been a few days and no sign of stress.  The root ball came out pretty much in tact though so I don't really expect any problems.  He's now got a lot more room to grow though and will probably live in this new pot for a long time.

As  you can see in the picture, he's got a new sprout forming at the bottom.  If he's truly happy he will turn that into a branch and begin the branching process.

I was told recently that for a truly productive cacao tree you needed it to branch first.  So here we go.

Speaking of branching though, there are lots of ways these guys branch.  I took some photos of my office cacao trees and they many ways they have started branching.  They aren't nearly so big but the branching is much more there.

I will include these pics in a future post noting how many different ways a tree can start branching out.  One of them is truly unusual and nothing I'd have though would be possible.  So, come back and see the branching post shortly.