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Power pruner options

Posted by Peter Fisher 
Power pruner options
February 05, 2017 01:56PM
I would like to hear about experience with/ recommendations for battery-powered or pneumatic pruning shears. With recurring back trouble and arthritis in my hands, pruning is the one task that is physically a challenge, and not getting better with the years. But we have a small diversified orchard (apples, peaches, Eurooean and Asian pears, 145 trees) so the prices of the battery-powered ones are hard to justify -- $1600 or more, or maybe $600-$800 for an import of unknown quality. The pneumatic ones seem more reasonable -- under $300 for the shears alone -- until you figure in the cost of a portable compressor. I have a good sized electric compressor that could be parked at the top of the orchard to refill a portable air tank as needed, but am doubtful the portable tank will maintain enough pressure for long enough to be worth it. Any thoughts?

Turkey Creek Orchard
Solon, Iowa (zone 5A)
Re: Power pruner options
February 07, 2017 05:24PM
Peter,

A friend of mine tried the electric pruners and they were not powerful enough for >1" branches. Good for grapes but not apples. I doubt the handheld pneumatics would be powerful enough either. Again good for grapes, but not apples.

I picked up a couple of pneumatic Campagnola extendable pole pruners(retail price ~$700[ouch] from Oescoinc.com) and have used them for over 5 years now. I power it with a gas powered compressor I found on Craigslist for about $250. I picked up 100' of neon green air hose(keeps flexible in cold temps) from local Fleet Farm for a reasonable price.

Stored air will not work; pruners take a LOT of air to operate.

There are cold weather issues with air pruners. Moisture collects in the lines and pruner pistons will freeze. When air temps are <0 F., I do not use them due to freeze issues.

I see Harbor Freight has a gas powered compressor for ~$550.

If you need more power, check out the Campagnola Star-50. It's has a fixed length pole, but has a larger piston located at the base of the pole. I have not used it, but my friend swears by it for larger cuts.

The pruners are expensive, but well worth it in speeding up pruning and saving my shoulders and arms.

Scott Overby
Log Cabin Orchard
Plymouth, WI
Re: Power pruner options
February 09, 2017 12:56PM
Hi!

Campagnola is pretty much the only game in town. Fixed length are less expensive and slightly lighter. Don't skimp on the compressor. Beside, it's always useful on a farm. Word of caution. You need 150 lbs to get the most out of the pruner. Most compressor run in the 90-120 range. You can change the controller but only if the compressor pump is rated for higher pressure.

I use mine in winter all the time (After all, it's call winter pruning...). Grab some gas antifrezze (buy a jug of methyl hydrate at the hardware store) and put some in a small bottle sprayer. Spray a bit in the air fiting of your pruner once or twice a day. Make sure to store the compressor inside overnight to be able to drain it in the morning. (I never do but do as I say, not as I do...)

lest I forget, for God's sake, stick with Honda engine.

Francis
Re: Power pruner options
February 14, 2017 02:40AM
Hi, I bought a Zenport 1.5" electric pruner this winter, it is fantastic! The battery lasts for an amazingly long time. We have over 250 fruit trees, and a bunch of landscaping. I can use it for several hours each day, for several days in a row without having to re-charge. It is powerful, I've stupidly cut larger branches than its rated for, it keeps working. I also bought the pole extension but have not used it yet. I highly recommend the Zenport

VistaRidge orchard, Quilcene, WA zone 8a est. 2012
235 Cider and heritage apple trees, 72 varieties,
Re: Power pruner options
February 14, 2017 10:33AM
That must have been the SCA3. I see it online for around $800. Can you tell me how quickly it makes a cut and returns to the open position?

Turkey Creek Orchard
Solon, Iowa (zone 5A)
Re: Power pruner options
February 18, 2017 08:39PM
Hi Peter, actually I think I bought the SCA2 because the SCA3 does not come with the pole extender. Cuts are fast, as is return, blade has 2 positions, the wider open takes longer to open and close, but also is powerful quick at cutting larger branches! I'm sure I've cut bigger than it is rated, it does well. At the smaller opening, I do not notice that I'm waiting for the blade to open for the next cut. I am really amazed at how long the battery lasts!!!!

VistaRidge orchard, Quilcene, WA zone 8a est. 2012
235 Cider and heritage apple trees, 72 varieties,
Re: Power pruner options
March 25, 2017 03:17AM
What about just using a battery powered sawzall our something?
Re: Power pruner options
March 25, 2017 06:27AM
I already feel bad for the tree, thinking how much the sawzall will make the tree or the branch shake....I don't personally think it's a good idea.

Westwind Orchard
Zone 5b in New York
Re: Power pruner options
March 27, 2017 08:10PM
Tried the sawzaw this year for larger (2' +) diameter cuts standing up in trees where I didn't want to handle a chain saw. It worked fine, I can cut with a hand saw about as fast, but of course with much more effort. Shaking was an issue when cutting at an angle where the branch pinches the blade but not other-wise if cutting at the branch intersection. This should be an option if you've got mature trees and have the saw already. Power pruners are for high volume pruning so we're talking two different jobs here.

Roan Highlands Farm 6b, Roan Mountain, TN elevation: 3200 ft.
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