I love fruit trees. They’re one of the first things to bloom here in Ontario. We are blessed to have 2 (very) old apple trees on our front lawn, and although they do well without much intervention, a little extra care will keep them going strong for years.
Mid february is a good time to start thinking about pruning your apple (or pear or cherry ect.) trees to control growth, remove dead or diseased wood, and stimulate the formation of flowers and fruit buds. Now, of course there is a enourmous amount of information available on pruning from all kinds of experts, but I’m just going to cover some basic pruning principals.
Cut out broken, dead, or diseased branches. This is a good place to start because it’s usually fairly easy to spot these branches. Get them out of the way first.
Where 2 branches closely parallel or overhang each other, in other words, if they cross or rub on each other, cut out the one that is weaker, or the one that’s growing in an undesirable direction.
Thin enough to permit thorough entrance of sunlight and air. Really dense branches don’t get enough of either (sun or air) to produce fruit to it’s full potential. Crowded tree usually have small, lackluster fruits.
Make close, clean cuts. leaving big stubs is an invitation for decay and disease. cut as flush as possible to the branch (or trunk) which the undesired branch is being cut from
Prune moderately. Like most things in life, over doing it isn’t good. If a tree is in desperate need of a haircut, do it slowly or you risk tasteless fruit, or even no fruit at all by upsetting the balance of new growth and fruit production.
Prune regularly. This goes hand in hand with the above point. Pruning and maintaining a tree yearly is much easier- on you and the tree- than trying to do an overhaul every few years.
Prune that part of the tree where more growth is required. This is really important for old trees (like mine!) Remember, pruning stimulates new growth. The flip side is don’t prune an area that’s already full and doing well, with the exception of criss-crossing or dead/diseased branches.
Don’t remove a branch unless you need to. Removing branches=removing leaves, and since leaves are what provides the tree with food, removing them unnecessarily will reduce growth or fruitfulness (or both!)
You also want to be sure you’re using sharp well oiled tools. And don’t forget safety- protective glasses and gloves, even a hard hat if you’re trimming larger branches. And make sure you have the right tools for the job. Forcing pruning shears to take on more wood than they can cut is dangerous for you, and will result in a messy cut (remember clean cuts people! We don’t want to develop disease or rot). If you need to, move up to a bigger tool to get the job done.
If you have newly planted fruit trees, read up on formative pruning to give your trees the best start.
If you have peach tree’s, you might want to do a little Google-ing for some more pruning info, as peaches have their own set of rules as far as pruning goes. Don’t have fruit trees at all? These tips can be translated to most other trees and shrubs too.
With a little TLC your fruit trees will be happy and productive for decades!
Also linking to:
-Homestead Revival’s Barn Hop
-Natural Mother’s Network Seasonal Celebration Sunday
-Growing Home Blog’s Teach Me Tuesday