If you are wondering how to prune fruit trees you’ve come to the right place. You’ll be glad to know its not super difficult. Trees that are pruned annually will continue to grow maximum fruit yields, and look stunning in the yard. It is easiest to prune trees during the winter when there is no foliage to interfere with full visuals of each branch.
Consider the type of Fruit Tree.
There are two basic types of fruit trees. Stone fruit trees include anything with a pit, such as cherries, apricots, plums, and peaches. Pome fruits include those with cores or seeds, like apples, pears, and quince. Pruning steps are the same for both types of fruit trees.
1. Clean Up the Fruit Tree
Step one involves cleaning up the tree. Any wood that is damaged, dead, or showing signs of disease has to be removed. Any branches that are discoloured, which can be a yellow, green, gray, or black color, should be cut off the tree.
Any sprouts that are growing at the base of the trunk need to be removed as well. Those are originating from the root-stock, rather than the fruiting roots, and will not produce fruit. They will, however, drain the soil of nutrients. Straight sprouts growing from the main branches also need to be snipped. Leave no little stubs on the tree. Instead, prune branches flush to the limb from which they grow.
2. Thin out the Fruit Tree
Thinning the tree is the next step to learning how to prune fruit trees. The goal of this step is to allow light and air to penetrate the canopy of the tree. That will reduce chances of disease and pests, while increasing the yield of fruit. Remove any branches that cross over another branch. Also cut any that are growing downward.
Once that is completed, take a few steps back and look at the tree. There needs to be at least fifteen to thirty centimetres of space around each main branch. That will let light and air circulate around the fruit that will be growing on those branches next season. If branches still appear to be crowding each other, cut some more back.
3. Shorten Outer Branches
The last step is needed to ensure branches grow short and thick. Branches that are long and thin cannot support the weight of ripening fruit. In this step, twenty to thirty percent of the outermost branches that have grown over the past year need to be removed.
It is at this point that cuts are going to be made into the actual branch of the tree. The previous steps involved cutting branches entirely off the tree. Prune each branch one half centimeter above a bud that is facing the direction that branch should grow. If a branch will intersect with one on the left, for example, cut it so it will grow toward the right.
Here’s a bonus tip that will make your fruit tree pruning far more effective: Make sure secateurs are sharpened for clean cuts to the tree. There are many hardware stores, or home improvement stores that offer sharpening for a nominal fee. It will help the task go faster, and be easier on the hands and arms. If pruning more than one tree, dip the shears into a disinfectant between trees. That will prevent any cross-contamination.
Safety is important, so wear work gloves and safety goggles while pruning trees. It is also important to clear away any cut wood. That will keep disease away from the healthy tree.
And finally, the best time to prune for most fruit trees is during the cooler months when trees are most dormant.
An exception to this is citrus trees in which case they should be pruned at the end of their fruiting cycle.
There you have it. A basic guide to pruning fruit trees. It’s not so hard to do and your fruit trees will reward you with better, more bountiful yields of fruit in your fantastic backyard.