Ask a Question forum: Apple tree pruning

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Chicago area
Jul 30, 2017 7:21 PM CST
I have an apple tree that is 8-9 years old in my best estimate. It has never been pruned. Is it harmful to the tree to begin this process now?
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Jul 30, 2017 7:37 PM CST
Wait until the tree is dormant. Then, prune each of those straight up branches back to 3 or 4 buds. Then prune all the side branches back to 3 or 4 buds. Remember that the apples will grow on the little 'spurs' in the tree and each spur lasts up to 15 years. Well pruned apple trees are just ugly. Smiling
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
Jul 30, 2017 8:05 PM CST
A picture would be informative but the right season is winter or early spring. Apple tree pruning is a fine art, best learned through experience, but Daisy has given you some excellent advice. Your pruning should serve two purposes: reinforce a strong overall shape (steer the tree in the right direction in a big picture sense, eliminating cross branches and competition) and eliminate most vertical growth, favoring a broader and shorter form. Having spent many years with apple trees, I actually find the un-pruned ones kind of ugly, especially after many years. Smiling

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