Fruit trees are prized for the delicious fruit they offer, and are a beautiful addition to any yard. However, in order to help maximize the yield from your trees, and keep them healthy, it’s important to know how to properly care for and prune them. Follow these tips for pruning fruit trees and help your trees continue to fruit abundantly every year.
Why Should You Prune Fruit Trees?
Fruit trees are different from other trees in that they need to be pruned yearly. This usually means cutting back branches and smaller limbs. Pruning fruit trees can help to reinforce the structure of your tree, especially in younger trees, so that it can bear the weight of a heavy fruit crop. Branches that are growing too close together or those that are crossed with other branches can be removed so that they don’t get in the way.
The more branches and limbs a tree has, the more energy it takes for the tree to maintain growth, and less energy goes into fruit production. Therefore branches that produce less fruit can also be removed. This way, the tree can focus more of its energy into the branches that produce well. A tree with lots of energy to put into fruit production will produce better and healthier fruit. Fruits from pruned trees have a higher content of sugar and ripen more consistently, so pruning your tree means you will get fruit that is sweet and delicious.
When Should You Prune Fruit Trees?
If you want to encourage lots of new growth, prune your fruit trees during dormant months after they drop their leaves. This way, it’s easier to see what you’re doing, and where to make cuts. If branches or limbs break during the warmer months, you can do some emergency pruning, but this should be avoided if possible, especially for younger trees.
Fall can also be a bad time to prune, because it stimulates growth, when the tree should be getting ready to be dormant for the winter. Winter pruning tends spur vigorous growth, while summer pruning does not. This is because in early spring, trees produce lots of energy, which can help jump start extra growth. In the summer, the tree has less energy, and therefore doesn’t grow as quickly. That means if your tree is getting too big, pruning during the summer may be helpful, because it won’t encourage extra growth.
What Tools To Use For Pruning Fruit Trees and How To Prune
The best tool for pruning is a sharp pruning shears, which you should be able to find at most hardware or gardening stores. These will easily cut through smaller limbs. In addition, to cut through thicker branches and limbs, you may need a lopper (which has longer handles for more leverage) or a saw.
For apple, pear, cherry, and plum trees, prune in a pyramid shape, so that there is a strong limb in the center, and the smaller limbs are exposed. The more branches exposed to sunlight and air, the better. First, remove all “suckers,” which are branches that are growing upward, from the base or the main trunk of the tree. These growths suck energy from the tree and don’t produce any fruit. When pruning suckers, cut all the way down to the wrinkled place on the limb where it’s growing from. When pruning other limbs, make cuts within a 1/4 inch (3/5 centimeter) of the bud, as the bud will direct the new growth.
Fruit trees can be a beautiful addition to any garden or yard, and when properly cared for, can bear delicious fruit for many seasons. Follow the above tips for pruning fruit trees and they’ll be health , happy and bear lots of fruit!