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Doing It Right: Fruit Tree Pruning

Tree Pruning Scheme
Apr 29, 2014
Blog type:

Table of Content:

  1. Introduction
  2. How to Prune an Apple Tree
  3. How and When to Prune Plum Trees
  4. Pruning Pear Trees


Do you have problems with your fruit trees in the garden? Was last year bad for your fruit production? It is possible that you missing something very important about fruit trees - pruning. There are many gardeners and arborists out there, who underestimate the pruning techniques and don't take them seriously. However, every professional in the branch knows that a good and regular pruning routine can keep your fruit trees productive and healthy. The most common questions are When and How and here in this guide we are going to answer them by covering the whole subject and talk about the usual suspects in the world of fruit trees.

How to Prune an Apple Tree

When it comes to apple trees pruning we should know that the best time frame to maintain them is between late autumn and early spring. It will encourage flowering and promote a healthy shape. The technique used for pruning may differ depending if we deal with spur bearing or tip bearing apple tree. Most of the trees have spur bearing, which means that the flowers and the fruits grow on the older branches near the trunk. Once removed the flowers and fruits on tip bearing trees will grow again than spur bearing apple trees. Let's see step by step how to treat a spur bearing tree from the beginning to the end.

  • Firstly get the following tools: secateurs, pruning saw or loppers and telescopic pruner which is useful for higher branches.
  • Remove any suckers from the base of the trunk. Use the secateurs to cut them and clear the tree from these small unwanted branches. Treat the base of the trunk up to the main canopy of the tree in order to encourage good shape.
  • Time to remove all the dead wood. Every diseased, damaged or dead branch should be cut off from the tree or it may continue spreading. You can remove whole larger branches if they do not hold any buds. If it does have buds towards the base of the branch, make a cut on the top and remove the part which is rotting the plant.
  • Cut off crossing branches. This treatment will actually improve the oval shape of the apple tree and make it look more attractive than before. On top of that it will stay healthy as well. Wind will pass freely through the plant, which prevents airborne diseases to catch the tree.
  • Prune the remaining branches. Infected or not the other branches should be pruned as well. Cut them by half of their length to encourage the stems to thicken and produce more flowers in the following season.

How and When to Prune Plum Trees

Compared to apple and pears trees, pruning a plum tree is nothing special. They are way more tolerant of bad pruning then the other two. Make sure to treat your plum tree once a year to keep it healthy and avoid any serious problems. The most common form of plum tree is the bush shaped, but there are 2 more that you can see - pyramid and standard forms. Here I will show you how to prune a bush shaped plum tree. It is important to know when to prune this type of fruit tree, because it differs significantly from the apple and pear trees. The best time to get this job done is when the tree is in full growth, usually early July for UK. Never ever prune in winter the plant is dormant, you will expose the plum to Silver Leaf.

The basic idea when pruning plum trees is the same as with apple trees. We aim to remove diseased, dead or damaged branches, as well as any cross branches. Increasing the ventilation inside the canopy of the tree and reducing the rotting branches is our top priority. When it comes to plum tree pruning, a decent maintenance of a single tree will increase production and can make the fruits bigger. Prune your plum tree regularly and you can enjoy healthy plant with beautiful look and good production.

Pruning Pear Trees

Before we start with a quick step by step guide on pear tree pruning, let's highlight some of the most important things you need to know. First of all, we should know that pear trees has to be pruned during their dormant season, before the active growth begins. Late summer is the best time to do the job, but if you live in an area where there is a danger of winter damage, don't take any chances and prune in the late winter (February). In general, professionals do not advise to do a heavy pruning. Your plant may suffer fire blight (you can recognize it by inspecting the leaves and branches, which look like burned). Delays in production is also product of the over-pruning. If you aim for the best production and strong healthy tree, make sure to schedule a regular pruning or hire trusted London professionals in tree pruning to help you out. You can learn a lot from them.

But let's see how to prune pear trees in the right order and keep the tree healthy:

  • Our first job as is to inspect the pear tree, so we can a clear idea of where and how to prune depending on the situation. Here are some of the questions that we need to ask in order to get this job done the right way: is the plant infected by fire blight? If yes, which branches and parts of it are affected? What shape do you want for your pear tree? How long it should be?
  • Once you have a clear picture of what you are going to do, then you can start. Remove branches that are broken or damaged. Cut off the infected ones as well. It's important to leave all the branches, which have buds on them, else you won't get any pears.
  • If you spot any cross branches do not hesitate to remove them. Think of them as rival, which do anything else, but benefiting the tree itself.
  • When you are ready with those must-prune branches, then you can think about shapes. Cut the branches, which interfere with your walking space or reduce branches from the sides where you don't want your pear tree to spread. It's up to you and your personal taste. Keep in mind that the tree doesn't hurt, but actually benefit from pruning.

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