The Q&A Archives: Planting apricot trees

Question: This spring I'm planning to plant some bare rooted apricot trees. I've always thought you should prune back the top growth severely when you plant. However, I've recently read that some experts are rethinking the practice. What's the latest on this? Jennifer Chernofsky Los Angeles, CA

Answer: We don't recommend pruning young, bare rooted trees when planting, says Tom DeHotel, manager of Pacific Tree Farms, specialists in bare rooted fruit trees in Chula Vista, California. By automatically pruning the top of the tree you may be losing oneto two years of top growth and inhibiting the rots as well, he adds. When trees break dormancy, they use food reserves stored in tree tissues to grow roots and shoots. If the food reserves aren't sufficient to feed all the buds, the tree will beginto die, starting at the shoot tips and working downward until it reaches a point where the root growth can sustain the shoot growth, explains DeHotel. Just prune down to the dieback in spring once it's clear which branches are dead. Usually the amountpruned is less than if you followed conventional pruning practices. You should only prune young, bare rooted fruit trees such as apricots to structurally train the trees.

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