Plum trees need to be pruned once a year so that they'll retain a healthy shape and produce abundant fruit. Autumn is here which means that Stone Fruit Salad Trees and Apple Fruit Salad Trees will start to shed their leaves. Fruit trees can be pruned in winter, spring or summer depending on what you want to achieve from the process. Knowing how the trees you’re growing produce their crops is key to how they should be pruned. If this is not done, it will lead to thickening of the crown. Pruning should be carried out when the tree is dormant, between leaf fall and bud burst (usually between November and early March). To control its shape and size. Winter pruning of fruit trees. The best time for pruning fruit trees is at planting and in subsequent years, in early spring before buds break and trees are still dormant . Winter pruning preps your plants to focus on growing flowers and fruit when they emerge in the spring. Prune fruit trees when the leaves are off (dormant). Initial fruit tree pruning is important to help young trees produce thick stems and open canopies where light and air can enter and promote flowering, as well as reduce fungal and bacterial diseases. Before you tackle pruning your fruit trees, ensure you know why you are pruning and that you have the right tools for the job. Harvesting fruit from your own trees is a most satisfying activity, but care must be taken to ensure the fruit will last when stored through the winter months. This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. Pruning fruit trees is a necessary undertaking. Thinning. The best time for pruning fruit trees is at planting and in subsequent years, in early spring before buds break and trees are still dormant. Pruning can allow more sunlight and air to filter through the trees and shrubs, which can help keep them healthy. They provide interest in all seasons: stunning form in winter, flowers in spring, fruit in summer and autumn’s foliage. Often it is necessary to prune trees when they are fully leafed out, so you can see where and how much to cut. If you have never been involved in pruning trees before, or have been pruning all your life but never read about best practice, this short post can help. Autumn pruning will keep your garden looking good through the winter and most importantly make it more productive in the spring and summer. BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. In fact, some tree services, such as pruning fruit trees to maximize fruit production, should only be done while trees are dormant during winter. Apples and pears: pruning made easy. More extensive pruning should be done in late winter/early spring, unless you have a sappy tree, like maples or fruit trees. The timing is important, since pruning at the wrong time of year can expose the tree to disease. If you want the tree to grow taller, leave the leaders and cut back lateral branches leaving about six buds. Pruning of deciduous fruit and nut trees is normally done when the tree is dormant—essentially any time after the leaves are off and prior to spring bud break. It contributes to the normal wintering of plants, the rapid growth and development of plants in the next year, and also lays the foundations for the next harvest. We have pruned as late as bud break, or just before the blossom … This is because the trees are dormant in winter, so by cutting back branches and shoots, you are concentrating the flow of sap in spring into fewer buds, resulting in stronger growth. This is not so much autumn pruning as winter pruning. Read more. Because spring and summer pruning is carried out after the tree has started to develop fruits (known as setting fruits), you can avoid cutting the branches with fruits on. Pruning apricot trees at least once a year is necessary in order to have healthy plants. The main objective in pruning fruit trees is to encourage flowering and fruiting. Apple and pear trees trained as free-standing bushes are best pruned every winter to ensure a good cycle of fruiting wood. Old, neglected trees are often vigorous and very large, with the fruit out of reach. If the tree is too vigorous, sending out an excessive amount of growth each year, consider also carrying out some pruning in summer. This isn’t ideal as they crowd the crown. That's because every time you cut a branch off of a tree, you will leave behind a pruning wound. When to Prune a Cherry Tree. If you are new to fruit pruning or are not feeling very confident, try our pruning made easy page instead. Within days your tree will start healing the wound with a layer of protective cells. Trees that have been improperly pruned or trained tend to have upright branch angles, which may lead to limb damage under heavy fruit production. A bush tree is the most common form of fruit tree, with an open arrangement of branches growing from a short trunk. Autumn is a busy season in the pruning calendar, the perfect time to remove old growth to get plants into shape. However, not everyone is comfortable with how to prune trees, fruit frees, or otherwise. Pruning apple trees in the fall helps protect plants from garden pests. In autumn, leaves fall off deciduous plants and trees take a winter “rest” until warmer spring temperatures wake them up. Pruning Fruit Trees to Support a Bountiful Harvest. Fruit trees that are left to their own devices, without pruning, tend to become hard stemmed. Often it is necessary to prune trees when they are fully leafed out, so you can see where and how much to cut. Fruit trees need pruning for two primary purposes: to establish the basic structure, and to provide light channels throughout the tree so that all the fruit can mature well. Autumn presents an ideal time for planting many fruit trees, as well as pruning and harvesting. Newly planted raspberries and hybrid blackberries should also be pruned. Trees can suffer cold damage in winter and spring, which may affect fruit production. When pruning apple trees in particular, you need to know whether the fruit is carried on ‘spurs’ or clusters of short stems along the length of the branch; or whether it is a tip bearer variety, where the fruit … It’s easier to see what you are doing and removal of dormant buds (growing points) invigorates the remaining buds. Why Prune? It is, however, an important chore to keep fruit trees healthy and productive. To avoid the need to renovate, when the tree has reached an optimum size for the rootstock that it is grafted on, regulated pruning can be used instead of the process described here. While summer-pruning fruit trees encourages flowering and fruiting, pruning in winter controls the overall shape, size and health of your tree. Autumn pruning of fruit trees and shrubs should be carried out annually. Dull blades tear limbs and create stress and damage to a tree. His goal is to improve the plant, to direct its growth in the right direction and to achieve abundant fruiting. After the leaves have fallen in autumn, the trees structure is revealed. Controlling growth also makes it easier to harvest delicious fruits! When planting your fruit trees, you may have envisioned a Garden of Eden-type situation with an abundance of fruit, and tidy looking rows of trees. Later pruning than this encourages the growth of ‘water shoots’ or non fruiting stems. 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