Answer: The general purpose of pruning fruit trees is to regulate growth, improve fruit size and quality, control tree size, and reduce production costs. Pruning is necessary to shape the trees for convenience of culture and for repair of damage.
Most pruning is done during the dormant season, preferably just before active growth begins in the spring. At this time, pruning wounds heal faster, flower buds can be easily recognized, and injury from low winter temperature is avoided. Summer pruning may be done to help train young trees to the desired shape, remove water sprouts and other undesirable growth, and maintain smaller tree size. It should be remembered, however, that all pruning has a dwarfing effect. For maximum yield of high-quality fruit, prune only as necessary to establish a tree with a strong framework capable of supporting heavy crops annually without damage and to maintain a tree sufficiently open to allow penetration of sunlight, air, and spray material for good fruit development and pest control.
Although pruning procedures vary according to the type, age, and variety, all newly planted fruit trees should be pruned in the spring before growth starts. This is necessary to stimulate lateral bud development from which to select good scaffold limbs.
If your tree has been established for several years, prune only to remove diseased, dead or improperly placed branches.
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