The Q&A Archives: Pruning Crabapple Trees

Question: My crabapple tree is starting to get those little "water shoots" - twiggy, bare growth off main branches. How do I prevent those from forming? Am I pruning at the wrong time of year (fall)?

Answer: Watersprouts occur with great regularity in both apple and crabapple trees. They are non-productive shoots and should be removed as soon as they appear. Pruning during the dormant season (late winter) may reduce the number of watersprouts, but won't entirely eliminate their development. For some reason summer pruning seems to produce more watersprouts than fall or late winter pruning. Cut the shoots off completely and plan to cut them off throughout the season to keep them under control, and to redirect the plant's energy into the more productive limbs and branches.

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