Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
January, 2011
Regional Report

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Anchor cane berries to trellis wires with clothes pins for easy readjustment

Pruning Fruit Trees and Vines

During dry weather, take care of pruning fruit trees before mid-February when the blossom buds turn color. If you miss that deadline, try to prune as soon as possible since the sap will begin to flow.

For deciduous fruit trees, pruning accomplishes several things to help the tree produce well for your needs:
1. Removes crowded or crossed branches and encourages the tree to grow from the center outward.
2. Opens the center for good light exposure and airflow. This improves ripening of interior fruit and lets breezes blow away disease spores and pests.
3. Reduces the height or width to encourage fruiting branches within your reach. You're letting the tree grow new branches only where you can easily pick the fruit without getting onto a ladder or providing supports for too-long branches.

Here are some helpful pruning tips:

Wipe shears with rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol after pruning several cuts to avoid spreading disease. Clean the blades extra well before moving to another tree or bush.

According to the University of California Extension Service, there is no need to use wound sealing materials or paint on pruning cuts; leave them exposed to the air to dry after pruning and let the tree form its own callus material.

Take care to not leave stubs or to overprune in any single year, as this encourages excessive new foliage and less fruit.

Citrus Trees

Remove entire branches at the trunk. Heading branches back--cutting off only portions--will remove wood that would have blossomed and set fruit this coming season and stimulate more bushy growth.

Cane Berries
Clip away all the dead growth -- it's conveniently gray or brownish colored. Be careful to not injure the new pink shoots at the crown. Attach each strong green cane from the root crown to the top horizontal support of the trellis. Prune side shoots just after the third strong bud. Re-anchor the upright canes (I use clothespins) evenly along the trellis wire in order to keep the area between each cane open for good ventilation.

The choice of pruning approach depends on the specific varieties and trellis structures you have. Generally, grapes will bear on second-year growth, so prune to encourage this.

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