The Q&A Archives: Pruning Apple Trees in the NE

Question: I am planting 40 apple trees, about 1-2 years old. When do I begin pruning them? Do I wait to see how they do after next winter, or do I begin shapeing them this year? I have some whips also, should I cut 5 inches from the top now to help growth this year? All plants are from 4-6 feet tall. Got any suggested reading on apple trees? Steven Gadapee St. Johnsbury, VT

Answer: After planting, most fruit trees are "headed back"; to do this, cut back the central leader, removing about one third the previous year's growth. Cut just above a strong bud. If there are scaffold branches, do the same thing with them, cutting them toa downward-facing bud. The intent is to encourage a stout, strong framework for the tree. A wonderful source of information and supplies for growing fruit trees in the north is St. Lawrence Nurseries in Potsdam, NY. Their catalog is full of interesting material, including good reference books. And their web site at: features their own Planting Guide.

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