Japanese Black Pine training is all about creating, achieving, and maintaining balance. This is done in several ways:
1. Selection pruning; reducing shoots to pairs in late fall-late winter.
2. Candle-pinching; breaking the emerging candles in Spring to make them roughly the same length.
3. Needle-pulling; at nearly any time of year, though usually early fall through early Spring.
Needle pulling “tells” the tree that each shoot is equally important. It also allows light into the interior of the tree, which can help stimulate back-budding.
It’s tedious and easy. Reduce each shoot to roughly the same number of needle pairs. 4-8 pairs is typical:
This winter, all of these needles will be removed, leaving only the needles which are beginning to open as a result of this summer’s candle-cutting. Those shoots will also be reduced to 4-8 pairs of needles, and some maintenance pruning will be done. For now…we feed!