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5 Easy Steps for Girdling a Tree to Make it Produce More Fruit

By William Mee & Krystal Folino

Girdling is a way to stimulate your tree into producing more fruit. This method works for many types of fruiting or flowering trees.

The idea behind girdling a tree is to allow water and nutrients to become concentrated in the canopy of the tree, by cutting off its ability to send nutrients back to the base, roots and other parts of the tree.

This succeeds in dramatically increasing the growth of flowers (bloom), which is a biological response inflicted on the girdled branch. The more flowers you have, the higher the probability of successful pollination and consequently more fruit.

The following are some simple steps to help you girdle your lychee tree.

  1. Late September through early October is the time to begin girdling your trees. At the same time you girdle your lychee tree you should use a higher phosphate content fertilizer which is known to boost bloom
  2. Never girdle the base trunk of the entire tree. Always girdle a major branch segment from the main trunk. If you girdle the entire tree you run the risk of killing it by starving the roots of nutrients, provided by the photosynthesis occurring in the canopy of the tree.
  3. Girdling is best performed by using a clean sharp pruning saw and cutting a ¼" deep groove, the width of the saw blade, 360 degrees around the limb section. The end of the groove should connect with the beginning of the groove to form a complete circle around the tree. The groove will heal and not permanently damage the tree.
  4. Perform the cut around a major limb comprising ½ to 2/3 of the total foliage. If your tree branches into two limbs off the main trunk (bifurcated) you can only girdle one of the limbs. If you tree has three main limbs (trifurcated), you can girdle two of them. Always leave one main limb un-girdled or you can kill the tree.
  5. After the tree has been girdled be careful to keep herbicides or pesticides from being sprayed into the open wound on the limb as these can be taken up into the foliage and fruit or can even result in the death of the tree.

Don't be surprised when the girdled branch(s) is loaded with fruit and the rest of the tree fruits lightly. The fruiting of the non-girdled branch is typical of what the tree would have produced had you not girdled the tree at all.

Follow these simple tips and you should be able to get the maximum amount of fruits from your lychee tree(s) every year.

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