Pruning fruit trees properly is vital to their survival and stimulating flower and fruit production, but improper or incorrect pruning could leave your trees with irregular or no fruit growth at all.
How can we prune fruit trees effectively for successful growth and fruit production? The key is choosing an effective pruning technique – for instance central leader pruning, midwifed central leader pruning or open center forms are some examples – as well as cutting back smaller branches, suckers or whorls to ensure optimal results.
We can assist in helping you understand these steps to prune fruit trees for tastier and greater fruits.
How to Prune Fruit Trees Step by Step:
Fruit tree pruning requires special techniques and care when applied, more so than with shade trees or landscaping trees. Therefore, when approaching fruit tree pruning you must find and implement the correct technique with care and precision.
Step 1: Choosing an Appropriate Pruning Method
There are three distinct pruning and training methods for fruit trees that will enable them to reach the form you envision, so as to produce optimal production results. Understanding all three will ensure your tree gets exactly what its production capacity requires.
Central Leader Form:
Our Central Leader Form method is ideal for apple and pear trees. When practicing it, one central trunk should remain while all lateral branches spread out like spokes of a wheel – encouraging vertical growth while creating classic conical forms.
Modified Central Leader Form:
This pruning and training method keeps a central leader while encouraging an open canopy with less vertical growth, making it particularly well-suited to warmer climates. Furthermore, peach and nectarina trees may benefit from choosing this modified central leader form as well. Click here to learn more.
Open Center Form:
Whilst pruning plum and cherry trees with an open center technique is ideal, creating a vase-like form with multiple main branches emerging from its center, creating an effective light/air circulation pattern to promote fruit development and optimize light exposure.
Step Two: Find the Appropriate Time for Pruning Fruit Trees
Timing is of utmost importance when it comes to successfully pruning fruit trees. Timing plays an integral part in this endeavor and choosing an ideal time is absolutely key in successful fruit tree pruning.
Pruning fruit trees during late winter or early spring is ideal, when they are still dormant and ready to grow back later. Doing it at this time reduces stress on the tree while simultaneously decreasing disease transmission risk and priming it for maximum fruit production.
Step 3: Select Appropriate Pruning Accessories
Once you’ve decided upon a pruning method and timeframe, the next step is selecting appropriate pruning accessories to give your tree its ideal shape. Its First and foremost, high-quality sharp pruning shears should be obtained – these allow for clean cuts while decreasing risk to trees while speeding healing processes.
For smaller branches, hand pruners will suffice; loopers work best when cutting branches over 1-inch thick; however a proper pruning saw is necessary if the fruit tree limb exceeds 2-inches thick.
Protecting your hands with durable gloves will prevent blisters as well as possible exposure to tree sap or irritants.
Step 4: Prune Mature Fruit Trees
Now that you have everything needed to properly prune a mature fruit tree, such as cutting tools and methods of pruning, it is time to actually do it! First step should be removing dead or diseased branches; for this, inspect closely to look out for branches which appear dead, damaged, or showing any symptoms of illness before cutting them close to their branch collars cleanly.
By intervening early, further issues and the spread of diseases will be prevented.
Following this step, it is necessary to selectively prune overcrowded branches in order to thin them out, increase air circulation and light penetration and cut scaffolding limbs to 30 inches length for central leader formation. Finally, during next season you must prune any competing leaders with main central leaders.
Maintain a balanced canopy where each branch has enough room to grow, trim any long or wayward branches carefully, prune back overgrown branches, and cut those that stray too far from your desired shape.
Maintain the structure of the tree by pruning long branches regularly to keep its structure intact, and prevent them from tangling or breaking under the weight of fruit.
Step 5: Prune Suckers and Whorls
Suckers are pesky shoots that appear from the base of a tree, diverting resources away from fruit production at your expense. On the other hand, whorls are clusters of small branches growing closely together that impede air circulation and light penetration – two significant issues when pruning.
Therefore, use a shear to cut through suckers and whorls that pose as obstructions, leaving only those which provide essential stability to the tree. Stronger individuals should be kept so as to provide it with stability.
Step 6: Pruning Small Limbs and Branches
When pruning, make final pruning cuts using heading cuts to promote bushier growth in certain branches. Trim branches so their tips bud outward to promote new side shoots which create fuller canopies with increased fruit-bearing capacities resulting in greater fruit yielding capacity resulting in greater fruit-bearing potential and thus an increase in fruit production by your fruit tree.
Time will make some older branches less productive or fruitful; to revitalize those branches, cut them back completely using rejuvenation cuts to encourage new growth from nearby buds and stimulate more fruit production from them.
Pruning fruit trees doesn’t need to be daunting if you follow our instructions on pruning small fruit trees to maintain healthy trees and increase fruit quality for an abundant harvest.