Before you start pruning fruit producing trees and bushes you must know and understand it’s fruiting habits.
Prune trees when they are dormant. Wait until a tree is dormant before pulling out the sheers! This is best for the tree and easiest for you. It’s easier to see where to make your cuts when the leaves have fallen. Pruning should be done in late fall, winter, or early spring. Exact timing will vary by zone, as winter months differ by zone.
Prune fruit trees to attain certain shapes. Remove weak, diseased, injured or narrow angle branches (the weaker of any crossing or interfering branches), and one branch of forked limbs. Also remove upright branches and any that grow toward the center of tree. You want to keep your tree from becoming too thick and crowded and to keep its height reasonable. All these objectives promote improved bearing, which is your overall aim.
Pruning Apple, Pear, European Blue Plums & Cherry Trees.
These trees do best when pruned and trained to a central leader tree. This type of tree has a pyramidal shape with a single upright leader limb as its highest point. This leader is the newest extension of a long, upright growing trunk from which all lateral branches arise. As with all strong growing branches, the leader should be headed back each year. The uppermost bud on the leader produces a vigorous new leader, and no other shoot should be allowed to grow taller. Lateral limbs should be selected from shoots growing out from the central leader. These should be spaced vertically 4-6” apart, have growth that is more horizontal than vertical and point in different compass directions from the trunk.
Pruning Peach, Nectarine, Japanese Plums & Apricot Trees.
These trees do best when pruned and trained to a vase-shape. This type of tree should have no central leader. The shape of the tree is controlled by selecting and maintaining three to five main scaffold limbs arising from the trunk. These limbs should point in different directions and originate no less than 18″ and no more than 36” from the ground balancing growth evenly between the scaffold limbs.
Miniature Peach, Nectarine & Apricot Trees.
These do not require shaping cuts. However, because they grow so densely, they require regular dormant thinning cuts to remove competing and crossing limbs.
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