Pruning Fruit Trees in the home garden.
If you want the best fruit and a healthy fruit tree, then you will need to know a little about pruning fruit trees. Some require very little pruning, others need pruning every year.
We prune trees for a number of reasons.
- To promote fruit formation. Pruning can increase or control the number of fruiting spurs.Increase the number and or the size of the fruit.
- To maintain a good sound structure in the tree. Pruning can increase the strength of the fruiting branches which makes them stronger and more able to hold the weight of the crop.
- To maintain tree health. Removing dead and diseased wood. Increasing air flow and sun light penetration and removing weak growth.
When to prune fruit trees
With deciduous fruit trees winter pruning is the favoured time. Winter is when the trees are dormant and the sap is not flowing. Although many fruit trees will still produce without being pruned, the quality of the crop including size is improved with pruning. You can prune many fruit trees right through until spring with few problems.
Apricot trees are a little different to all other fruit trees when it comes to pruning. They should be pruned as soon as they begin to lose there leaves, generally in early autumn. This is when the sap has stopped flowing, choose a sunny dry windy day and prune early so that the wounds dry as much as possible.
You will need :
- Pruning Saw
All equipment needs to be cleaned before and after use as well as in between different trees to help prevent disease.
How to prune fruit trees
One of the most common forms of pruning for fruit trees is Vase Pruning. This removes growth from the middle of the tree and creates an open centre in the tree that allows light in to stimulate fruiting wood. This form of pruning is used extensively with apple, almond, apricot, cherry, fig, nectarine, peach, pear, persimmon, pistachio, plum, pomegranate, and prune trees.
In the home garden as well as in the commercial orchard pruning also helps to maintain trees at a size that is more easily managed for both fruit picking and other horticultural needs such as spraying.
In general we are trying to remove any dead or damaged wood to begin with. After that we are trying to maintain or create an open structure so that light penetration and air circulation is improved.
Apple and stone fruit trees are generally pruned to a vase shape. This method selects 4 – 5 branches that are trained to form an open V, this allows light and air to enter and improves production and ripening. Many local nurseries and permaculture groups run workshops on fruit tree pruning.