Our cherry tree, planted last year, has buds on the upper branches but the lower branches do not have buds. I would say 1/3 to 1/2 the tree is without buds. Should we dig it out and not waste any more time on it or should we prune off the branches that appear to be dead and hope the rest take over ?
I wouldn’t dig it out. It is normal for a young tree to skip flower and fruit production for a couple of years while it is getting a root system established. Check the base of the tree to make sure you haven’t buried the trunk too deep or piled mulch up against the bark of the tree…this is a common mistake and will eventually kill the tree. Here’s a link to a blog post about that.
Also, fruit tree are attractive to a wide variety of pest so you should start a spraying program to insure it stays healthy and insect and disease free. Bonide Complete Fruit Tree Spray is great for this. Poking holes in the ground around the tree and pouring in some Espoma Tree Tone would ne a good idea right away as well…breakfast is the most important meal of the year for our plants as they wake up in spring. Here’s a link to a blog post all about spring feeding. The strong Fruit tree spikes are too strong for your young tree…use the granular Tree-Tone.