- Pruning Apricot Trees
- Pruning apricot trees – Centre before height
- Pruning apricot trees – the next generationRespect the young Samurai
- It was a short but tough fightOnce again the young Samurai’s loppers have won the battle
- It’s time to clean the wounds
- ToolsMy personal recommendation
- Apricot Tree Trimming: Learn When And How To Prune An Apricot Tree
- When to Prune Apricot Trees
- How to Prune an Apricot Tree
- Why won’t apricot tree bear fruit? | The Sacramento Bee
- Cooperative Extension: Tree Fruits
- How-To Video: Pruning a Fruit Tree
Pruning Apricot Trees
The way of the Samurai
Pruning apricot trees – This time I’ll be using the sharpest high quality pruners I can find and heavy duty anvil loppers to reduce the ‘enemy’s’ (the poor Apricot tree) height. I have left him in peace for the last two years, un-pruned and untouched in my very own garden. Now I think the time has come to show him who’s boss. In his defense I will say, in season he delivers amazing fruits! but who can pick them when they are at that height? It’s time for the way of Samurai.
When to prune?
Like any other deciduous fruit tree, apricots should be pruned only after it has shed all its leaves. Prune only when the tree is naked. This will usually take place in late winter. See picture on the right.
Pruning apricot trees – Centre before height
Where to begin? Start from the tree’s center. The shape of my apricot tree is really not ideal, but it still has the cup shape. So to be able to begin the pruning process I always prefer to start from the center. Why? well, first of all, you should always strive for an open center so the tree can get the most sunlight and air circulation – both important for the trees general health. Second, an open center is a great and easy way to care for your apricot tree throughout the year, and as you prune your way to the center you’ll also get a better look at the tree’s skeleton – which we will talk about shortly.
Which branches should I prune? Start by removing the dead branches. You’ll easily recognize them, their color is gray, they have no buds and very likely that they can be broken off by hand. Dead branches, unlike live ones, have no flexibility and can be snapped off. Next to be pruned are the crossing branches, those that grow cross the tree in the middle, or cross one or two other branches. Last to be pruned are all the branches growing towards the center. Remember the aim is to keep the center clean and open.
Pruning apricot trees – the next generation
Respect the young Samurai
What next? Now we prune the tree’s height, which has clear benifits: 1. Low hanging fruit are easy to pick, and 2. low branches are easy to train and remove. And, it gets even better, here comes one of the biggest benefits of pruning, the social part. Keeping a trees height rather low is perfect for kids and the disabled, allowing them to reach the tree both in terms of caring for it and for fruit picking, which is fun for everyone, regardless of their height. Another great thing about lower trees, is that at lower heights they produce significantly more fruits. In a minute I’ll show you how low you should go, but know this: the best fruits will always grow on young new branches, so by pruning the tree low you’ll get lots of young branches and soon after lots of apricot clusters (so much so, that you will probably need to read up about fruit dilution).
This is my daughter Roni (our little Samurai) She’s 5 foot tall, and at the point where her raised hands reach is where you should prune. From that point you will soon see young new branches grow and become covered with flowering buds that shortly after will become apricots.
The Samurai sword is back in its scabbard
It was a short but tough fight
Once again the young Samurai’s loppers
have won the battle
Pruning apricot trees is easy. And I told you I’ would use my Samurai method. Now you can clearly see the cup shape of the tree. The pruned stems are all pointing out, the tree’s centre is clean of crossing and dead branches, unnecessary twigs have been removed, even dried rotten leaves that where on the main trunk’s base have been removed. There is now no reason to touch the tree at least for the next two seasons. Beside routine maintenance of course.
I hope you enjoyed learning about pruning apricot trees.
Let’s prune again soon.
It’s time to clean the wounds
Please don’t forget to use a quality pruning sealer on cut stems wider than a finger (1/2 inch). It will reduce exposure to fungus, and cold weather, and prevent heat burns. Pruning apricot trees isn’t easy, but in few weeks you’ll be rewarded.
I know that there are differing opinions regarding the use of pruning sealer, but in this case I have decided to use it through to the season. The apricot’s skeleton is naked and it now has a lot of new cuts that are exposed to the sun, diseases and all kind of harms. I would definitely want to protect the expose cuts from potential cold burns and the sun is still not so hot and burning (it is after all only late winter where I am). So the pruning sealer will protect my apricot tree, and by the time the sun gets harsher the tree will be covered with new leaves to provide shade to it’s not so new wounds.
My personal recommendation
My preferred pruning shears: Pruning apple trees can be tough. Even the small dried twigs can give you a hard time. I would use short blade bypass pruners that can handle the challenge and are also good for the small stems. For thicker branches, a 1/2 inch or more, I would recommend bypass loppers – they will make the hard work easier.
Apricot Tree Trimming: Learn When And How To Prune An Apricot Tree
An apricot tree looks better and produces more fruit when it’s properly pruned. The process of building a strong, productive tree begins at planting time and continues throughout its life. Once you learn how to prune an apricot tree, you can approach this annual chore with confidence. Let’s take a look at some apricot pruning tips.
When to Prune Apricot Trees
Prune apricot trees in late winter or early spring as the new leaves and flowers begin to open. During this period of time the tree is actively growing and the pruning cuts heal quickly so that diseases have little chance to enter the wounds. It also corrects problems early, and your cuts will be smaller.
How to Prune an Apricot Tree
Prune the tree for the first time soon after planting it. This will help the tree develop a strong structure. You’ll reap the benefits of both early pruning and subsequent apricot tree trimming for years to come.
Pruning Apricot Trees at Planting Time
Look for a few solid branches that grow out more than up before you start cutting. These branches are said to have a wide crotch, referring to the angle between the main trunk and the branch. Keep these branches in mind because they are the ones you want to save.
When you remove a branch, cut it close to the collar, which is the thickened area between the main trunk and the branch. When you shorten a branch, cut just above a side branch or bud whenever if possible. Here are the steps in pruning a newly planted apricot tree:
- Remove all damaged or broken shoots and limbs.
- Remove all branches with a narrow crotch—those that grow up more than out.
- Remove all branches that are within 18 inches of the ground.
- Shorten the main trunk to a height of 36 inches.
- Remove additional branches as necessary to space them at least 6 inches apart.
- Shorten the remaining lateral branches to 2 to 4 inches in length. Each stub should have at least one bud.
Pruning Apricot Trees in Subsequent Years
Apricot tree trimming during the second year reinforces the structure you began in the first year and allows for some new main branches. Remove wayward branches that are growing at odd angles as well as those growing up or down. Make sure the branches you leave on the tree are several inches apart. Shorten last year’s main branches to about 30 inches.
Now that you have a strong tree with solid structure, pruning in subsequent years is easy. Remove winter damage and old side-shoots that are no longer producing fruit. You should also remove shoots that grow taller than the main trunk. Thin out the canopy so that sunlight reaches the interior and air circulates freely.
Why won’t apricot tree bear fruit? | The Sacramento Bee
Apricots are a backyard favorite in California, but there are many reasons a tree won’t bear fruit. File photo
Experts tackle readers’ garden questions.
Q: I planted an apricot tree in our back yard about seven years ago. There were lots of blossoms the first year, but few apricots. From the second year and on, the number of blossoms decreased annually and the apricots also decreased dramatically. This year is the worst year and I do not expect to get even one apricot. I water, fertilize and spray the tree regularly and by the book. In the last two years, I did not prune the last year’s growth. The results are still the same; no fruit. Could you help?
Jamal Zeid, Lincoln
Sacramento County Master Gardener Cathryn Rakich: Apricots, a Mediterranean crop requiring a warm, dry growing season, are grown throughout the Central Valley. In fact, California produces more than 95 percent of the nation’s commercially grown apricots.
Local News at Your Fingertips
Get unlimited digital access for just $3.99 a month to #ReadLocal anytime, on any device.
However, the early blooming apricot tree also can make a welcome addition to the home garden. Apricots produce pink or white flowers in early spring – February into March – followed by blushing orange fruit in May. Most apricot trees begin to produce fruit the second or third year after planting, but substantial bearing does not start until the fourth or fifth year.
One of the most common reasons that trees fail to bear fruit is lack of pollination; they may have abundant blooms but never produce fruit. Most apricot trees are self-fruiting, also called self-pollinating, which means they do not require more than one tree for pollination. However, some varieties set better with a little help from cross pollination of a second apricot tree, especially in years with wet, cool weather during bloom.
Other potential reasons for why a 7-year-old apricot tree is not producing fruit include inadequate chilling hours, late frost, alternate bearing, improper irrigation, nutrient deficiency, incorrect pruning and pests or disease.
Most fruit trees, including apricots, need a substantial amount of cold winter weather to end their dormancy and promote spring growth. They require cold temperatures, referred to as chilling hours (approximately 600 to 900 hours below 45 degrees), for normal flowering and good fruit set. After a mild winter, flowering and spring growth can be delayed and irregular, resulting in reduced fruit set. At the other extreme, a late frost also can be deadly to apricot blossoms, ensuring in little or no fruit.
Alternate bearing, which is relatively common in apricots, is when the tree bears heavy fruit one year and a sparse crop the next. If the tree has an especially heavy crop one year, it will use most of its energy to produce that year’s fruit rather than to form flower buds for the following year’s crop. Thinning the fruit early, especially if it’s a heavy crop, encourages the tree to form more flower buds for next year.
In addition, apricot trees need consistent irrigation throughout the growing season. Excessive or insufficient watering can reduce fruit set and quality. Lack of moisture in early summer can result in small fruit; later in the season it can interfere with bud set for next year’s crop. Apricot trees should be drip or sprinkler irrigated every two to three weeks in spring and summer.
Another reason for poor fruit set is nutrient deficiency, particularly nitrogen. However, too much nitrogen can lead to fewer fruit and susceptibility to pests and disease. Therefore, the total nitrogen requirement for the year can be divided into two or three smaller quantities applied over the growing season. Other deficiencies include zinc, potassium and iron.
Inadequate pruning is another thing to consider. Apricots have single, simple buds that can be born on either 1-year-old shoots or older spurs. Spurs are productive for three to five years. Apricots should be pruned moderately each year to encourage new growth on which new spurs can develop. Prune in July or August to avoid introducing fungal disease.
Finally, apricot fruit set can be diminished due to a variety of pests and disease. During the winter dormant season, trees can be sprayed to control San Jose scale, aphid eggs, mite eggs and peach twig borer. Never use sulfur on apricots. In the spring, spray to control brown rot disease and shot hole fungus as soon as blooms start to open. For seasonal steps on caring for apricot trees, visit the University of California website at homeorchard.ucanr.edu.
For more information on fruit tree pests, disease, thinning and fertilizing, visit the Master Gardeners of Sacramento County website at sacmg.ucanr.edu.
Cathryn Rakich is a UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener for Sacramento County.
Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties. Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to h&[email protected] Please put “Garden Detective” in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact UC Extension directly, call:
Cooperative Extension: Tree Fruits
Pruning corrects the natural tendencies of fruit trees that may counterproductive to growing fruit or undesirable. The natural tendency to grow too many shoots and large branches ultimately causes shading in the interior canopy and lower branches. This lack of sunlight inhibits flowering and weakens branches. Trees with an open, well-lit canopy grow larger fruit compared to trees that grow into a thicket. Because they are trees, they can grow to tall heights, which creates difficulty in harvesting. Branches that grow beyond a height or length that is desired can be shortened or removed by pruning. Trees can be pruned to have a certain shape that is designed to be more fruitful or to be visually pleasing within the landscape. Pruning is the standard way to remove dead and dying branches. To partly correct the tendency of apple trees to bear fruit in alternate years can be partly corrected with pruning. There are many reasons for pruning fruit trees.
The best time to prune fruit trees is late winter into early spring when it will least affect winter hardiness and tree health. Summer pruning in late July or August is another time when pruning can be performed, but severe pruning at this time will weaken the tree. Therefore, the majority of pruning should be done during winter or spring. Pruning lessens winter hardiness to a small degree, so pruning in early winter can lead to winter injury when it is followed by severely cold temperatures. It takes two weeks for the tree to regain winter hardiness that is lost due to pruning.
The same tree can be pruned in many different ways. How to prune fruit trees depends on expectations and individual reasons for growing fruit trees, preferences for tree size, shape and willingness to expend time in performing the task. One person may want fruit trees that have a natural, unpruned appearance, but may want to correct an overgrown canopy to increase sunlight for healthier branches. Another person may wish for a more manageable tree size or a tree that bears large, well-colored fruit. A tree pruned so that it keeps its natural appearance will be pruned differently than a tree that is cultivated primarily for fruit growing.
Shapes of Fruit Trees
Fruit trees can be pruned to have a natural shape or pruned to have a more cultivated look depending on the degree of pruning and types of pruning cuts made. Allowing the tree to grow naturally without any shaping is preferred by those who do not favor the more cultivated styles of pruning. This method may result is a very tall tree, but is the simplest to accomplish and is appropriate for fruit trees that also function as flowering ornamentals. A different option is a single leader trees with one trunk that dominates and grows upward several side limbs and numerous fruiting branches. The single leader shape is suitable for dwarf trees which are naturally short. When the tree is narrow at the top and wide at the base, as is the case with most single leader trees, more sunlight reaches the lower branches. A third option, the multiple leader system, involves two or more dominate branches that grow upward and angle out away from the tree center. This shape helps to maintain a shorter tree and is useful for trees that can grow very tall such as plums and peaches. The best option depends on the size of the tree when it is fully grown and on personal preference.
Espaliered trees are thin canopy trees pruned to grow along a wall or trellis. They can be trained as multiple leader or single leader. They are not considered natural since fruit trees do not grow in a flat plane in nature. To accomplish an espalier with minimal hassle, plant dwarf trees.
Natural or unpruned trees have dense canopies that lack sunlight.The single leader tree had several side limbs oriented horizontally to capture sunlight. Annual pruning removes some of the branches that shade the rest of the tree.The multiple leader tree has several limbs that grow upward and outward at an angle which helps to keep the tree short.
Types of Pruning Cuts
Removal of shoots or branches is accomplished with either the thinning cut or the heading cut. The thinning cut is the complete removal of the shoot or branch at its base where it joins the rest of the limb. This type of cut has minimal impact on the appearance of the tree. It is useful for removing dead branches or when the tree has an excessive number of limbs or branches. In contrast, the heading cut is removal of part of the shoot or branch so that part of it remains on the tree. Heading cuts are useful for shortening branches. The heading cut changes the direction in which the shoot or branch is growing and consequently alters the tree appearance. It also invigorates the buds and shoots that are closest to the cut. In general, thinning cuts reduce the number of branches on a tree and heading cuts increase the number.
Both thinning and heading cuts can be made on large branches or small shoots. When pruning into large branch, the cut can be made in the older section where side branches are already developed. When pruning into a new shoot, an increase in the number of lateral branches will be the result. Avoid heading cuts into new shoots in order to encourage the formation of flower buds instead of new shoots.
When young branches are left unpruned, they tend to form flower buds rather than leafy shoots. Heading cuts invigorate buds near the point of the cut. Instead of forming flower buds, they grow into long shoots.
How To Prune Apple Trees Video
The demarcation between the current shoot and the previous year’s is visible as a complete ring or ridge as indicated by the arrow. On this cherry branch, the newer shoot to the left of the arrow has lateral flower buds and the two-year-old section on the right has spurs with flower buds.
Pruning practices can be adjusted to maintain the balance between shoot growth and fruiting and to prevent an overstimulation of the shoots. In order to accomplish this, an understanding of shoot vigor is needed. Vigor is simply the amount of shoot growth that occurs in one year. At the base of the shoot, a ring or small ridge occurs that completely encircles the shoot and indicates the beginning of this year’s shoot and the end of last year’s. The length from basal ridge to the shoot tip is the length of shoot growth that was made in the current year.
Shoots that grower two or more feet in one year are considered vigorous and unlikely to bear flower buds in the coming year. Shoots that grow less than four inches are called spurs. They cease growing earlier in the summer, and begin to form buds which usually bear flowers and fruit in the following year. For a good balance between shoots and fruit, a fruit tree should have a mix of spurs and shoots that are one or two feet in length. When a tree grows mostly strong shoots, it is vigorous and should be pruning lightly to prevent additional stimulation of strong shoots. Trees that have lack strong shoots and have a predominance of spurs are lacking vigor and will not likely be invigorated by severe pruning.
When a tree is vigorous, it forms fewer flower buds than trees that are lower in vigor. As a rule, vigorous trees should be pruned with this in mind to prevent the removal of too many flower buds. When a tree is weak, it may have too many flower buds, some of which can be removed with detailed pruning to help restore the balance between fruiting and shoot growth.
Flowering and Flower Buds
Fruit trees form flower buds in the season prior to their bloom, usually in summer. They continue to develop through the fall and winter. In spring, the flower bud blooms, bears fruit and grows another shoot or spur that repeats the same process.
In apple and pear trees, flower buds occur at the tips of short shoots and spurs. They are swollen at the base and have a more rounded shape and larger size than buds that have no flowers. As a shoot grows, it increases in length and eventually forms a bud at its tip. Shoots that form a terminal bud in late spring or early summer have more time during the rest of the season to form into a flower bud. Shoots that continue to grow into late summer or fall are less likely to have a flower bud form at the tip, so it remains a leaf bud instead. Along the length of the shoot, buds also develop, but these rarely become flower buds. The following season, the lateral leaf buds will grow into short shoots, called spurs, that typically end in a flower bud. This is how branches grow if left unpruned. Pruning with heading cuts disrupts this process by stimulating buds to grow into strong, leafy shoots rather than spurs with flower buds. For this reason, avoid heading cuts in new shoots.
In peach, plum, cherry, and apricot, shoots grow in a similar manner, but flower buds are formed along the length of short shoots and spurs rather than at the tip of the shoot. The shoots and spurs consequently have a mix of both leaf and flower buds along their length. The shoot tip always forms a leaf bud in the stone fruit trees.
Pruning involves a number of decisions about which branches to remove. Eliminating the excess is the essence of pruning, and deciding what is excessive is the first step. To begin, examine the tree from all angles to observe the size and shape of the tree, to find crowded spots with too many branches, and to find dead branches. Once the problems have been identified, decisions about what to prune can be made. It may be helpful to work from the opposite perspective and ask yourself what should not be removed. In this case, you would prune the rest of the tree in a way that favors these branches that have been selected.
Dead branches are not essential to the tree and can be eliminated without further thought. They are typically removed with thinning cuts when the entire branch has died. If only the tip is dead, it can be removed with a heading cut by pruning at a point just above a side branch when it is not desired to remove the entire branch.
Examine the size and shape of the tree and decide if it is too tall, too wide or growing too closely to the ground. Identify which branches are too tall or too long and remove them with them with thinning cuts or shorten them with heading cuts. In some cases, this may entail a large portion of the tree. Decide how much should be removed this year and leave the rest for the following year to avoid over pruning. If the tree has not been pruned recently, there will likely be a decision regarding which of several limbs should be removed. Look closely at each and select limbs that have fewer flower buds or are generally unproductive. Where two limbs or branches are occupying the same space, one should be removed.
Examine how densely the tree grows. Does each limb have sufficient space for its side branches and is there sufficient light reaching the inside and lower branches. If not, then look for limbs or branches that are too close to others and blocking sunlight. Some or all of these can be eliminated with thinning cuts. Deciding how many to remove in one season depends on tree vigor or how long most of the branches have grown. For very vigorous trees, remove one or two large branches at a time and leave others until next year. This will lessen the rebounding effect that pruning has on tree vigor. For trees that are less vigorous, more branches and limbs can be removed without the subsequent invigoration of the tree. If you are not bothered by the consequences of severe pruning, remove as much as you like in one year.
Examine the branches closely to see if they have grown flower buds in abundance or sparsely. This may require several years of experience and comparison from year to year since the classification of “too many” or “not enough” is an individual decision based on preference for how many flowers and fruit should be borne by the tree. With experience, pruning decisions of which branches to eliminate will be guided by how many flowers buds they bear.
One of the guidelines for selecting branches is the angle at which they grow. Branches that point down are weak and usually unfruitful. Watersprouts, branches that point directly upward are usually too vigorous and overshadow other branches. In either case, remove these types of branches and keep ones that point at an angle instead of straight up or down. If the tree has only watersprouts, keep the weaker ones since they eventually bear fruit.
A number of pruning tools can be used to make pruning easier. However, some trees are too large to be safely pruned with common tools. For very tall trees, it is best to hire a professional to prune the tree back to a manageable size before attempting to prune it yourself. For trees that have grown into power lines, contact the power company to correct the problem before attempting to prune in this dangerous situation. During pruning, protect your eyes from injury by branches. Safety glasses are strongly recommended to branches from poking your eyes.
For removing limbs and large branches, hand saws, and pole saws are the preferred tools. Avoid climbing trees or standing on old branches since they have poor structural strength and will likely break. Instead, use a pole saw or a tripod ladder to reach the tallest branches.
Loppers with a bypass blade are useful for removing small limbs and branches. They can reach into tight spaces more easily than some saws.
For detailed pruning and removing small branches, bypass hand pruners are recommended over anvil pruners since they can make a flat cut. Anvil pruners leave behind a small stump that will grow new watersprouts.
It is not necessary to seal pruning cuts since the wood naturally seals itself to prevent desiccation and fungal invasion.
Renovating a Neglected Fruit Tree
When fruit trees have not been pruned in many years, they can become overgrown with too many branches and have the tendency to bear only small fruit. Lower branches may die from lack of sunlight. However, the amount of pruning needed to correct this may be substantial and should be done over a period of three to four years to avoid the consequences of over pruning.
Begin by removing all dead limbs and branches. If most of the lower limbs are dead, the resulting shape of the tree will be altered after pruning.
If pruning will involve the removal of large limbs, this should be done first before detailed pruning. Where two limbs are growing too close to each other, remove one with a thinning cut. This may require the use of a saw and may entail the removal of a large branch. In many cases, the tree is too tall for safe fruit picking. Removing the tallest branches will shorten the tree and allow more sunlight to reach the lower branches. Remove large limbs in sections or with the help of another person. Avoid over pruning by removing only one or two large limbs each year. In the following year, some of these pruned limbs may regrow new shoots from the edge of the cut. One or more can be kept to replace branches that have died.
Finish the pruning by removing smaller branches and spurs as needed so that the remaining ones are not crowded. For balance and sunlight, remove more branches in the top of the tree. As a general guideline, remove 75% of the branches in the top and 50% in the lower part of the tree.
In the next year, continue to remove large branches that crowd others. At some point, there will be no more limbs that crowd others. In this case, prune to maintain the shape of the tree and to thin out branches to keep the tree from becoming crowded.
Watersprouts, strong and upwardly oriented shoots, arising from a pruning cut made in the previous year.
The main purpose of maintenance pruning is to prevent branches from crowding each other, and to keep the tree a certain size. It is best to begin with the largest pruning cuts that need to be made, such as the removal of any limbs that grow to close to other limbs. Follow this with detailed pruning such as shortening branches and removing branches where there are too many. The same steps that occur with pruning neglected trees can be followed, but remove fewer limbs and branches.
Pruning Newly Planted Trees
Fruit trees can be pruned at planting to develop the shape of the tree. After this initial pruning, they should be pruned as little as possible until they begin to bear fruit every year, generally from five to seven years after planting. Pruning encourages the growth of leafy shoots rather than flower-bearing shoots, so trees remain in an unfruitful state for a longer period of time.
Shaping a tree can be accomplished at planting. A single leader tree does not need pruning (left). To shape a multiple leader tree, remove the main branch at a point just above four or five side branches (right).
To establish a single leader tree, leave the main branch unpruned. Remove any side branches that are too low to the ground and any that are broken or dead. To establish a multiple leader or vase-shaped tree, pruned off the top of the tree at a point above four or five side branches or at a point about 30 to 36 inches above the soil. The point where this cut is made will determine the height of the lowest branches on the tree, and can be adjusted to a higher or lower point. For a vase-shaped tree, the new shoots should be encouraged to grow outward to form the main branches. Pears and sweet cherries tend to grow vertically, so it may not be easily done in these two species.
To maintain the vase-shaped tree, branches should not be growing completely upright nor should they be horizontal, but somewhere in between these angles.
A young peach tree pruned to be a multiple leader tree.
Trees can be trained to many different shapes. The best time to do this is in the formative years, starting in the first year after planting. Once the framework of the tree is established, it is difficult to reshape it. Pruning nonbearing trees should be kept to a minimum until the tree reaches maturity or full production, generally at an age of six to ten years. Severely pruning a young tree will keep it in an unfruitful state for a few additional years.
How-To Video: Pruning a Fruit Tree
This video applies to pruning deciduous (goes dormant and loses its leaves) fruit trees only. Citrus trees are not pruned regularly—only to keep a pleasing shape.
Pruning keeps fruit trees healthy, well-balanced in shape, open to sunlight, and promotes fruiting branches.
- Best time to prune is January through mid-February in California
- Prune to remove dead or damaged branches
- Prune to “open up” center of trees for sunlight
- Prune to keep tree well-balanced and to a manageable size—for ease of harvest
- Prune to promote fruiting branches
- Always make cuts about 1/8 or ¼ inches away from (or above, not below!) remaining branch or leaf bud
- Make cut at 45-degree angle
- Use sharp, clean pruning shears
- Hand shear
- Long-handles shear for larger branches
- Pruning saw for biggest branches
- Clean tools after each tree (with rubbing alcohol) to prevent disease from spreading
Pruning apples and pears
- Remove dead or damaged branches
- Open up center of tree
- Reduce size
Promote fruiting branches
- Reduce thin, skinny branches to five-seven leaf buds (show little bumps where leaves were)
- This promotes fruiting branches that are fatter, shorter, with larger, rounded tips (show example of)
- Be sure you don’t cut any of these off—these are the branches that bloom and produce fruit
Pruning peaches, apricots, nectarines and plums
General pruning (same as above)
Promote fruiting branches
- Require heavier pruning that apples and pears
- Reduce entire tree (mature trees only) by about one-third every year.
- These fruits are different from apples and pears—they have new fruiting branches each year.
If branches are loaded with fruit, be sure to thin (remove) some of the fruit. Branches won’t break and fruit will be larger!