Guide to Fruit Tree Pruning

Why is it Necessary to Prune your Fruit Trees?

Pruning is necessary to promote good plant health, remove damaged limbs, encourage new growth and maintain shape. There are five basic pruning cuts, each aimed at producing a different effect:

  1. To produce more or better blossom and fruits.
  2. To develop or maintain the desired size, shape, and appearance. Most of us have small gardens. Prune to save room for an interesting variety of plants and to keep trees from becoming leggy.
  3. To re-establish a balance between root and branch systems after transplanting.
  4. To train a young plant. Pruning now to encourage balanced, open growth saves effort later.
  5. To rejuvenate, older, neglected trees. Removal of old, overcrowded stems or limbs encourages the growth of vigorous young ones.

The principal reasons for pruning are:

  • To maintain health – regular removal of dead or diseased wood keeps plants healthy. Maintenance pruning includes removal of dense growth to let light and air reach the inner and lower stems.
  • To repair injury – damaged wood is an open invitation to disease-causing organisms.

When to Prune your Fruit Trees

There are two times of the year when pruning is essential: summer and winter.

Winter Pruning

When the tree is dormant from late November until early February (when all the leaves have fallen from the tree) For stone fruits, Cherries, Plums Peaches, Nectarines and Apricots this should be left until the sap starts to rise (mid-March).

Summer Pruning

Mid-August. Espalier, Fan and Cordon fruit trees. Prune back all new growth to 2-3 buds. This will encourage fruit bud development and maintain the shape of the tree. Some summer pruning can be done on fruit bushes to allow light and air into the tree to help the fruits develop. 

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