Pruning Apple Trees
The leaves have now fallen from your apple and pear trees, which means its time to prune! We know this can seem like a daunting task, especially if you haven’t done it before.
To get you started, here are 4 top tips:
- Aim to take between 10-20% of the overall canopy off in any one winter. Work around the tree evenly and keep an eye on your pruning pile - if it's looking a little big, STOP - you can always go back next year and do some more.
- Your aim is to take out a bit of old wood each winter, to stimulate new. But the majority of the fruiting wood should be quite young - one to four years old, which is the wood that fruits best.
- Try to stagger your pruning cuts throughout the canopy. That way, the regrowth too will be even. If you only prune the top branches, this is where all the new growth will shoot up from, giving you a thicket of young, non-fruiting shoots that you'll just end up pruning off every year in exasperation
- Even with very old trees, resist the temptation to prune off large limbs. These are at risk of decay. As a general rule, think twice before cutting into branches that are more than 10-12cm (4-5in) in diameter.
- Don’t use pruning paint cuts on apple or pear trees. However, these are sometimes used on plums, cherries and other members of the Prunus family as these are particularly susceptible to disease through pruning cuts.