Pruning Apple Trees - Knowledgebase Question

Hazlet, NJ
Question by Moewoman1
January 7, 2000
The house we recently purchased has one apple tree in the yard. Much to our surprise early this fall was that it was bearing edible apples. I have been told that to produce more apples, the tree must be pruned. When is the best time of year to prune the tree, and how far down a branch is safe? Also is there a way to safegard the tree from pests?


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Answer from NGA
January 7, 2000

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It can be quite a job to prune an old and neglected apple tree, especially if it is a large tree. Pruning is often done in winter and on a neglected tree the amount of wood removed can be substantial. You may find the guidelines at the following web site helpful http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/env... along with its other pointers on fruit tree care techniques such as thinning once the fruit has set.

Since many gardeners find that a regular spray program is needed to produce a good crop and keep their trees healthy, you might wish to contact your local County Extension (431-7260) for their recommended care of apple trees as well as the best timing for any suggested sprays such as dormant oil. They may also be able to help you identify the type of apple you have which in turn may help you determine its susceptibility to various diseases and then tailor your spray program more specifically.

Enjoy your tree!

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