The Q&A Archives: Training an Apple Tree

Question: I'd like to know how to go about training the semi-dwarf apple sapling that I planted last year.

Answer: You'll probably want to train it to a central leader, with fruit-bearing lateral (side) branches. The other option is an open center with long laterals, which resembles an upside down umbrella. The first year, cut back the laterals, leaving four buds. In the spring two branches should begin to grow from this point forward. Next winter, cut the branch back to a flowering bud to force a fruit spur the following spring. When you're cutting back to a flowering bud, you'll have to cut back past the two new branches that formed over the summer, to a plump bud left on the lateral from the previous winter's pruning. At this point, maybe a picture is worth more than a description! Check your library or bookstore for an illustrated guide to pruning fruit trees. Best of luck!

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