One of the most tedious pruning tasks is removing water sprouts and suckers. These are one-year-old growths that emerge from the base of the tree (suckers) or from a horizontal main branch (water sprouts). On trees that are annually pruned, such as fruit trees, you can spend most of your pruning time removing these branches.
Now a widely used commercial orchard product is available for home gardeners. Sucker Stopper is made from a naturally occurring growth hormone: naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA). It stops sucker growth on a variety of trees, such as apples, pears, crabapples, willows, Russian olives, redbuds, and silver maples.
In spring spray Sucker Stopper around areas on the trunk where suckers usually emerge and around any fresh pruning wounds. The earlier in spring you treat the tree, the better. One treatment will last approximately 3 months.
For more information on Sucker Stopper, visit www.montereylawngarden.com/faqs/sucker_stopper.html