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Cutting shoots from the base of trees

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There are suckers that often sprout at the base of tree trunks, especially common with olive and pomegranate trees. They ruin the trees' aesthetics. Can I remove them during shemitah? What about citrus trees? Does it make a difference if the growths are from below the graft line?


Rabbi Moshe Bloom

❌ Removing such shoots (also called suckers) during shemitah is problematic. Suckers should not be removed lechatchilah.

If there is a pressing need, remove them with a shinuy (in a way different than usual):
📏 Do not clip them too close to the trunk; leave several dozen cm of the growth.
⚒️ Change the instrument to clip off the sucker – such as with a hoe instead of pruning shears.
It is best to do both, but if difficult, one type of shinuy is sufficient.

☠️ If it is possible to poison these shoots, that is best. If not feasible proceed as above.

😱 Do not uproot the sucker, unless it will strangle the tree or cause significant damage. This is generally not the case unless it is a tender sapling or growing in a planter.

The above applies to any type of tree, regardless of whether or not the growth is above or below the graft line.