The Q&A Archives: Apple Trees

Question: I have a small grove of apple trees and they do not sem to be producing much fruit. Can you please fill me in on the annual care program that would best revive the trees? I have just cut off all the dead branches but I'm not sure what to do next. The month is September.

Answer: Annual pruning of apple trees will result in healthier trees and larger crops of fruit. The trees should be pruned in the winter months when they're dormant. If you prune now, you'll encourage new growth at the wrong time of year. It's okay to have removed dead limbs and branches, but wait until the trees are dormant before pruning any live wood. Start by pruning out any dead, diseased, dying, crossing, rubbing or broken branches. Then remove any branches that grow straight up (these are non-productive water sprouts). Then you can prune your tree for form and fruit production. There's an excellent book on the subject that includes line-drawings. It's just the right size to take out into the orchard, along with your pruners. It's called 'Pruning' by Christopher Brickell, ISBN# 0-671-65841-7. Your local library or local bookstore can probably find a copy for you.

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