Pruning - Knowledgebase Question

Phillips, Ne
Avatar for mistyfire77
Question by mistyfire77
April 25, 2010
How and when do I prune my apple and peach trees?

Answer from NGA
April 25, 2010
Fruit trees should be pruned when they are dormant. Although you can prune now in the spring, you may encourage lots of suckering water sprouts. These can be cut off next winter if they do appear this summer. Here are some general pruning guidelines: The first thing you do is remove damaged, broken and diseased branches. Next, remove any branches that rub or touch each other. When that is done, stand back and STUDY from all angles. If you do a fair amount of pruning it will produce a big, flush of growth in the spring, therefore be on the lookout for suckers and water sprouts (vigorous vertical shoots) and take them out when they appear. When you cut, cut quite close to the nearest branch or trunk leaving just barely a "neck". Do not leave stumps as they will be a weak point on the tree and invite disease and insects. Remember that pruning off too much at any given time will probably stress your tree. So don't go overboard. The Modified Leader method is probably the best route for a home grown fruit trees. It starts out with one leader, but as that central trunk becomes stronger it is allowed to form several tops. This helps the tree sustain the weight of the fruit. Eventually, youll want to shorten the tree a bit, which will make it easier to pick the apples as well as allow sunlight and air to get into the central part of the tree. As far as when to prune, I would suggest waiting until the very coldest part of the winter is behind you but the weather is not yet warm. It's a time you're anxious to get into the garden and there are many pleasant days when it's fun to do this. The tree will still be dormant with no leaves, so it's a good time to be able to stand back and make a good judgment about just what needs to go or stay. Best wishes with your fruit trees.

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