Fruit Trees 101…

The method to the madness regarding pruning fruit trees reminds one of huge bonsai. In reality, it is exactly just that! You let the tree get just so, and keep it that size forever. The effort to keep the tree “maintained” should be constant, meaning every day (our year) and should not be skipped. Also, moving the pruning injuries around a bit to avoid hitting the same spot over and over again is the goal.

Fruit trees want to get big, but size is their enemy, they will tear themselves apart if they get out of scale, or “leggy.”

The exception to this pruning theory requires diligent propping of every limb, and this is what to do if you want big fruit trees.

An old apple that has been abandoned for a few years after proper pruning will be difficult (read expensive) to rein back into scale and sometimes the tree just isn’t worth it, let’s face it. Apples by the bag or box are pretty cheap.

Fruit trees for the most part and stone fruit types especially have root systems that are just not geared well to anchorage, and another reason to keep them on the small size, or in scale.

Cherries hate big pruning cuts and keeping the fruit within reach is paramount, but again, diligence is key. Once you get beyond the target size, it takes a magician to undo that with a pruning tool.

My favorite method of fruit tree production for the hobby orchardist is espalier.

One dimensional walls of fruit grown and trained along wires and within reach is money in the bank and yearly maintenance is a breeze, all you need is a pair of Felcos in one hand, and a cup of coffee in the other.

For free standing fruit trees, the center of the top of the target height should be the highest part of your tree, as you move to the outside of center, you will be shifting the pruning down.

Keep the pruning wounds as small as you can, but don’t leave a stub. In theory, make the cut just outside the collar and a 90 as you can to center. Never paint the cuts! It is hard to hurt a fruit tree’s feelings, so don’t be afraid to tackle the pruning on your own. Fruit trees will replace what you remove in triplicate, the goal is size first, structure second, scale third and last but not least, getting those pruning injuries to close and seal as fast as possible…

Plant high and often, and yes, NOW is the time for fruit tree pruning…

Show More

Related Articles

Check Also
Back to top button