The Q&A Archives: Pruning Trees

Question: I have several apple and cherry trees that have not been pruned or improperly pruned for the last 10 years. I do not care about loosing the fruit at this time. Would it be alright to prune them now? If not, what problems would result from pruning now?

Thank you,

Answer: Summer pruning won't hurt your tree but it will produce lots of new growth, and suckers (or water sprouts) will be a part of the process. These non-productive shoots will grow straight up from the tops of the branches. Cut them back as they appear to help your trees direct energy toward developing more productive horizonal branches. It's a good idea to pace your pruning, removing no more than one-third of the healthy plant material in any one pruning session. If your trees are terribly overgrown it will be less stressful to them if you do some pruning now and wait until winter dormancy to resume pruning. With a little patience, and a pair of sharp pruners, you'll be able to rehabilitate your fruit trees.

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