Answer: The upright, non-productive water sprouts you describe are annoying, but quite common with plum and apricot trees. You wouldn't want to use a chemical to kill them because it would harm the tree roots and affect the health of your tree. If you cut them off at soil level they'll just resprout. The best approach is to dig the soil away until you find the point of sprout emergence on the root, grasp the sprout firmly, and pull it off the root. Doing this will remove a "heel" of material along with the sprout. This "heel" is where most of the growth hormones are concentrated. Removing this will stop re-emergence. Cover the exposed root with soil as soon as you've finished pulling out the sprouts. New sprouts may emerge from the roots of your tree from time to time. Remove them in a similar fashion.
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