How to properly prune fruit trees

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Pruning fruit trees - AppleIn order to get the most out of your fruit trees, it is a good idea to get into a routine of regular, yearly pruning. This will ensure not only provide a good future yield, but also keep your trees healthy and looking great in the garden.

When to properly prune your fruit trees

If you tree is free standing, then Winter is the season for pruning. Trained fruit trees, fanned on trellises, wires and pagodas will need to be pruned during Autumn.

Ensure that you cutters (secateurs, saw, etc) are both clean and sharp to avoid needless infection. I tend to wipe my secateurs after use with linseed oil to preserve and guard against rust.

Where and how to prune

Always remove and dying, weak or diseased branches. Try and keep the branch matrix as loose, open and airy as possible by removing centre branches. Branches growing close to or crossing over each other are at a higher risk of disease, will not pollinate as well and may rub together and cause damage to bark.

Cut back new branches to about 1/3 of their length if the tree has already reached its desired size. Always prune immediately above an outward facing bud.

It is important to remember that fruit will develop on last years growth. So don’t be too vigorous and remove all of this. Keep between 30-50% on your tree to ensure a good crop.

3 thoughts on “How to properly prune fruit trees

  1. I have just recently moved house and the garden has both a damson and an apple tree. The damson is not too bad, however the apple tree needs a serious prune. Should I do this now or wait till Autumn?

  2. I don’t know about Damsons, but my advice would be to at least thin at the branches a little. Try and achieve a hollow centre to the tree, removing old or diseased branches as you go. Remember, last years growth will provide this years fruit, so don’t prune all of that away.

  3. Sorry, I misread your comment. Most fruit trees will benefit from a little prune. Winter is the perfect time to prune your apple tree.

    If you didn’t prune your fruit trees, they will become less productive, year on year. Just try and open out the branches a little. You can cut last years growth back, but if you want a crop this year, try and reserve at least a third of such growth.

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