Get ready to prune your fruit trees!
The upcoming winter months when the fruit trees are dormant is the best time for apple, pear, or cherry tree pruning. Winter is the best time to see and evaluate the branching structure of your tree.
Branch structure is one of the most important factors impacting longevity of fruit trees. During the growing season when the tree is laden with fruit and leaves, there is considerable weight on those small branches.
When pruning, first establish a central leader. Ideally there should be one leader that grows straight up, not three or four. Next, select scaffold branches or branches that grow up horizontally out from the central leader. Remove branches that are growing close together or ones that have tight or small angles of branch attachment. As you select branches to remove, keep in mind that the wider the branch attachment, the stronger that attachment point. Remember all the fruit and weight that branch will bear next summer.
Another kind of pruning cut to help reduce the risk of branches breaking is a heading cut. Heading cuts are made to reduce the length of the branch; it’s important to cut back clearly to another branch or bud.
When pruning also remove dead and diseased limbs to help inhibit the spread of diseases. Be careful, as some diseases like fire blight can spread by pruning cuts. If you think you might have fire blight in your tree make, make sure to dip your pruning tools in bleach or sterilize them between cuts, or prune during the dormant season when the disease is not active.
Call Ahlum & Arbor today to consult with an Arborist on your fruit tree care for this coming winter!