fig tree problem
I have a 2 year old fig tree that I've been trying to espalier. I have 2 horizontal branches attached to the top tiers of my trellis and one horizontal branch on the next tier down. What I'd like to have is 4 laterals on each side of the trunk. If I cut the tree off at the top of the trellis this winter, am I likely to get side shoots that will give me my 8 lateral branches or will I ruin my tree?
I think it may depend on your variety and your location.
However, this may help. Where I am, it's not uncommon for figs to be coppiced off low to the ground, just a few inches above the root graft. This creates a moderately dense thicket of branches. Figs are not the most sprout-happy trees, but they do okay.
I don't know any way to encourage the lowest tier to have another branch, but if you prune the top with a few inches of trunk to spare, you should get a few sprouts there to choose laterals, with perhaps one to continue the vertical growth for next year.
One of my figs succumbed to a borer of some kind this summer, losing about six feet of trunk I wanted to train as a standard. Instead, I now have the low coppicing that produced a dozen branches, no fruit at all this year from that fig.