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.  

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