Long-Spur Method (c.1900?)



“It is not easy to give precise instructions for the Long-spur pruning system because it is not as Strictly defined as the Short-spur system. It had no name originally until Truffaut gave it this one.” (Champagnat, The Pruning of Fruit Trees p. 116). {in Georges Truffaut’s Comment on Soigne Son Jardin, pub. 1900? – text not available online, so date not checked}


Intended to be easier, less elaborate and less time-consuming to apply than the Short-spur (Courtois) method, for fruit producers who wanted to get as large a crop as possible from the trees, in the shortest possible time.

“There are certain obvious advantages in this method. If at the outset, at the time of planting, it is intended that the trees once formed, shall be submitted to a long-spur treatment, the period given to the formation of the tree can be reduced. If the leader growth is left longer each year, there will be a smaller number of fruit-producing organs on the tree, but the tree will reach its ultimate size more quickly. The fruiting spurs are farther apart, but if they are allowed to extend, each spur system will occupy more room … [and] the established tree will bear a sufficient number of fruit spurs.” (Champagnat, The Pruning of Fruit Trees p. 116).

Comparison with Short-Spur System

The position of the dard and of the fruit bud
In short-spur, the dard is kept as close as possible to the main branch, whereas in the long-spur it gets further away, leaving a varying amount of space on the fruiting lateral. “In reality, the relative position of the dard never changes. It always comes after the weak brindille shoots, which are themselves preceded by wood shoots, and these increase in size the nearer they approach the extremity of the shoot.”; “Every dard comes from a wood bud, and all wood buds are capable of changing into dards.” (Champagnat, The Pruning of Fruit Trees p. 117)

Speed of development of the dard
In short-spur, all competition with dard is systematically prevented, “every organ that might hinder its transformation into a fruit bud being suppressed or treated in such a way as to make it non-competitive.” (Champagnat, The Pruning of Fruit Trees p. 117) In long-spur, the dard has to compete with other organs and can therefore remain dormant for several years or even become annulled, or may produce a long shoot. “The pruner, in fact, can no longer control the way the dard develops.” (Champagnat, The Pruning of Fruit Trees p. 119, italics from text).

Factors Influencing Fruiting

The complicated spur system arising from long-spur pruning results in a large number of brindilles in proportion to ordinary wood shoots. When they are terminated by a fruit bud, the weight of the fruit bends the brindille, it lignifies and is therefore favourable for future fruit bud formation {as per SALSA system?}

Ordinary wood shoots are left long so that their first crop bends them downwards, with the same fruitful result as for the brindille.


Source: Paul Champagnat, The Pruning of Fruit Trees, 1954 edtn, pp.119 – 121

“Although extremely simple, this is very difficult to classify because of the excessive number of special cases … only a few general hints will be given here.” (ibid, p.119)

First Pruning of the Maiden Lateral Shoot
“Pruning is done, not by counting the buds, but by maintaining a certain length of shoot. This may have anything from 4 to 8 buds. The stronger the shoot, the less it cut off it, because the more strongly a shoot grows, the more buds will develop from it the next season. On an unpruned shoot, if there are any dards, they will be found at some distance from the terminal bud. One a pruned shoot their position relative to the terminal bud remains unchanged.”; “…such pruning makes little or no difference to dard development, and it would be necessary to leave a shoot with [several] buds to allow the dards at the base to develop.” (ibid, p. 120)

Subsequent Pruning
Do not cut back to the organ nearest to the main branch. i.e. if 2 wood shoots and one dard, both shoots pruned back to a few buds, permitting a branching of the spur system.

“All later prunings can be formulated as follows:”
1. Suppress all shoots not needed (i.e. regulation pruning)
2. Shorten remaining wood shoots, “not to favour the development of any particular bud or dard, but merely to remove some unneeded part of the shoot.” (ibid, p. 120)

After first crop pruning operations are simple and rapid, modified regulation pruning. “The main object is to prevent excessive development of the spur system, so that plenty of light and air can reach all parts of the tree. Branches pointing in the wrong direction, and those that cross or rub are but back or cut out. At the same time the number of fruit buds is reduced by cutting away part of each fruit spur, thinning out in some degree those on the inside without any definite rule. After some years the main fruiting branches are rejuvenated by dehorning to a young shoot near the main framework, or by pruning back to the wrinkles at the base of the shoot or spur.” (ibid p. 120)

Glossary Links


This sounds like the system recommended in most modern pruning guides, i.e. pruning less on stronger shoots, ignoring dard development in favour of a general shortening of shoots, pruning to improve light and air-flow, removing crossing or rubbing branches etc.