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How Do You Prune Fruit Trees?

How Do You Prune Fruit Trees?

On May 5, 2024, Posted by , In Uncategorized, With Comments Off on How Do You Prune Fruit Trees?

How do you prune a fruit tree? In most cases, the goal for residential fruit trees is twofold – optimize fruit production and make it look good. The most common pruning mistake with fruit trees is removing all upright shoots leaving many trees in a mushroom-like shape. During this process, many of the parts that are about to produce fruit are destroyed and the tree responds to this heavy dose of pruning by growing a veritable forest of new shoots.

Most apples and pears will grow fruiting spurs that produce fruit for several years. These spurs are short and densely branched. Make sure to keep these. Other trees, like cherries and plums, will produce fruit on last year’s growth.

It’s generally accepted that trees grow strongest when they have one main trunk taller and thicker than all of the other branches. Shortening or removing vigorous branches that compete with the main trunk will ensure your fruit tree continues to grow healthy and strong.

Espalier is a specialized pruning style that keeps trees short enough for easy harvesting. Common forms are cordons or fan shapes. Cared for properly an espalier might not exceed six feet tall and can produce dozens of fruits annually.

Espalier Apple
This is a cordon style apple espalier in my yard. Each horizontal branch is a different variety of apple.
Espalier Apple after pruning.
I pruned each arm to space the fruiting spurs.
Apple fruiting spur
Here is a close view of one of the fruiting spurs. It will likely grow four or five apples.