The Q&A Archives: Pruning cherry trees

Question: When and how do I prune my 3 year old cherry tree in order to bear fruit. Mary Crouse Lancaster, PA

Answer: First of all, plan to prune on in early spring, after the coldest weather but before any growth begins. For your young tree, prune any lateral branches that are competing with your tree's leader -- the strongest and most vertical shoot. You can simply head these back -- prune them back as far back as you need to so they are not competing with the leader. Cut just above an outward-facing bud. As your tree matures, plan on moderate annual pruning. Begin by pruning any dead or diseased wood. Also remove branches that are crossing or rubbing. (This is probably all the pruning you'll need to do for the first six or seven years.) Then, on your mature tree, thin out some of the old bearing wood each year to gradually renew the tree and permit sunlight to penetrate the crown.

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