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Rooting fruit tree limbs, pruning limbs or removing diseased limbs from fruit trees is an often very difficult and tedious work. Fruit tree limbs often have to be removed from or around the fruit bearing tree before the tree can begin producing fruit. Fruit tree limbs are commonly removed during the following three major seasons: summer pruning, mid-winter pruning and late winter pruning.
Before the spring mid-winter pruning, it is common for one or more limbs to break under their own weight. Thus, pruning limbs from trees to remove the broken limbs is not practical. Therefore, the fruit tree is generally removed from its location and a substitute is planted in its stead. Fruit trees can be removed or relocated during the late winter or early spring pruning. If a fruit tree limb is removed or broken during the late winter pruning, the broken limb is generally covered with a wire net and left to recover in the ground.
When a fruit tree is removed from the ground and left to heal in the ground, the broken fruit tree limb will likely begin to sprout. The sprouted growth of the fruit tree limb is called a sprout. The sprouts are often called "weeds" or "nurse limbs" and the fruit tree that planted them is called a "nurse tree". The "weed" or "nurse tree" has a greater chance of survival since it is not affected by the pruning process and does not have to heal.
Typically, "weeds" are not removed by the "nurse tree", and rather the "nurse tree" waits until the "weed" is no longer useful. If the "weed" was previously a small "nurse tree" in its own right, it will start to bud and develop more flowers and fruit. This new growth is called a second "nurse tree". By the time the second "nurse tree" is ready to bud and begin to flower and produce fruit, the first "nurse tree" is already in full production and the tree has more than enough fruit to share with the second "nurse tree". It is the result of this second "nurse tree" that the so-called "weed" is no longer needed.
When large fruit trees and commercial orchards are removed from the ground and allowed to heal, the result is typically multiple "weed" trees that require a gardener's intervention to remove. Each "weed" tree may have different growth rates, different vigor, and/or different flowering and fruit production patterns. In order to remove the multiple "weed" trees, the gardener must determine which of the multiple "weed" trees have the best growth rate, vigor, and/or fruit production characteristics. This is often done by assessing the fruit quality, yield, size, and/or weight of the fruit produced by each "weed" tree.
Therefore, what is needed is a device and method for determining the characteristics of a "weed" tree before such a "weed" tree is removed from the ground and allowed to heal.