Pruning Apple Trees - Knowledgebase Question

Liberty, NY
Question by MSCJWC
December 1, 1997
Please tell me the best method and time of year for pruning apple trees. I have several dwarf and regular apple trees.


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Answer from NGA
December 1, 1997

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The best time to prune apple trees in the northeast would be late winter. The first thing to do is to prune off any broken or diseased limbs. Prune right back to the nearest large branch or trunk. Do not leave stumps as they will be a weak point on the tree and invite disease and insects. Once that has been done, remember that heavy pruning can stimulate a flush of vigorous new growth, and may stress your tree. So don't go "overboard"--you can safely prune up to one third off an old, overgrown tree; less off a smaller one.

Next, remove any branches that rub or touch each other. Look objectively at the tree and decide which one to keep and then remove the other. Remove any branches that grow straight up. They may be "suckers", which probably won't produce fruit.

If your tree is very young you need to keep an eye on its future. Prune it in such a way as to keep it healthy and good looking. You don't want it to be too bushy in the center. Keep it open so air can move through freely. This will help prevent disease.

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