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Pruning Fruit Trees - For a Healthy and Productive Garden

Written by; Joy Smithers / TCCN Staff Writer
Added on: Mon Jul 13 2009


Pruning Fruit Trees

Pruning fruit trees can be a complicated process. There are many rules to follow to ensure a healthy, productive tree remains after pruning.

Remember, leaves are the food-manufacturing organs of the tree. So, removing a live branch, which bears leaves, limits the tree's output of fruit. Nonetheless, there are times when pruning is necessary and even helpful to a tree's life.

Pruning fruit trees too much can have unwanted consequences. For example, pruning causes a tree to produce fruit later in the season. Additionally, over-pruning can cause fruit to lose its color and encourage the growth of suckers and water sprouts in place of healthy fruit.

The less you prune, especially during the summer months, the more quickly a tree will bear fruit. For this reason, pruning should be selective, efficient, and minimal.

Remember, once fruit grows, branches will bend to give more light and help the tree appear less congested.

Pruning should be done when a tree is dormant. This is the time between late fall and early spring budding. If pruning is done too early, there is a significant risk of winter injury because pruning exposes a tree to weathering and cold.

When pruning a tree, the cuts should be made flush with the fruit tree's limbs. Ragged cuts will delay healing of the tree and can lead to drying or infection.

A good time to prune a tree is just before replanting. This is because replanting a tree is bound to leave some of the root system behind. Thus, the tree may be too big to support itself. To correct this, it is a good idea to prune all branches below two feet in height. You should also prune any heavy branches that seem weak.

Another time to prune a tree is whenever you see narrow crotches in the branches. These are prone to damage by water, ice, rot organisms, and cankers. You should also eliminate branches that are weak or drooping to avoid future breakage. Also be sure to remove broken, dead, or diseased branches before they lead to further damage.

Ultimately, a fruit tree's strength relies upon your selection of branches during pruning. Remember, after pruning strong shoots will grow out of the cuts. This gives the impression of increased growth. Thus, 6 or 8 branches are usually sufficient to build a good tree.

Happy pruning!


Copyright: 2009

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