Pruning Fruit Trees Like a Pro: Essential Tips for Homeowners

Pruning Fruit Trees Like a Pro: Essential Tips for Homeowners

By Terra Penn on March, 8 2024
Landscape Tips Citrus and Fruit Tree Maintenance Spring Tips

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Terra Penn

Pruning fruit trees is a vital task that every homeowner with a fruit tree should fully understand before trimming or shaping. We understand the importance of proper pruning techniques and the impact it has on the health and productivity of your fruit trees. Below, we’ll share with you the proper technique and time of year to prune fruit trees.

Apple tree with fruit.

It’s important to understand that the ideal time to prune fruit trees largely depends on the type of tree and your specific climate. However, a general rule of thumb is to prune fruit trees during the dormant season, which is typically in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Pruning during this period allows the tree to focus its energy on healing and regrowth, rather than producing fruit.

When pruning fruit trees, it's crucial to use sharp, clean tools to make clean cuts. Dull or dirty tools can lead to jagged cuts, which can leave the tree susceptible to diseases and insect infestations. Start by removing any dead, damaged, or diseased branches. These branches not only hinder the overall health of the tree but can also provide an entry point for pests and diseases.

After deadwood removal, it’s time to thin out the canopy. This involves removing branches that are crossing each other or growing towards the center of the tree. Thinning allows for better light penetration and air circulation, which promotes fruit production and reduces the risk of diseases.

Another important aspect of pruning fruit trees is maintaining an open and balanced structure. This means removing excessive branches and creating a well-spaced framework that allows sunlight to reach all parts of the tree. It is important to note that different fruit trees require different pruning techniques. For instance, peach and nectarine trees benefit from a more open center, while pear and apple trees can have a central leader shape. Fruit trees produce the most fruit when their branches are angling up, so removing downward facing branches will help encourage upward growth and, in turn, fruit production!

Peach tree with fruit.

When making cuts, it is essential to prune just above a bud and at a 45-degree angle, as this prevents water from pooling on the cut and encourages new growth. Avoid leaving stubs, as they can attract insects and promote disease development. Most fruit trees like apples and pears do well with about 25% of their canopy pruned at once. But stone fruit, such as peaches and plums don’t like to be pruned so heavily and will produce better for you if you only prune about 15% of their canopy at a time.

Pruning fruit trees at the appropriate time and using correct techniques is crucial for their overall health and productivity. We recommend pruning fruit trees during the dormant season, using sharp and clean tools, removing deadwood, thinning out the canopy, maintaining an open and balanced structure, and applying protective sprays when necessary. By following these guidelines, you can ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your fruit trees. Remember, if you have any specific concerns or questions regarding pruning, it is always best to consult with a professional at Moon Valley Nurseries.

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