Do you have one or more apple trees and wish they would be producing more fruit? You will learn how to prune apple trees and why it is important to do so every year! We will go over when is the best time of year for pruning and why the timing is important.
Its possible your trees are not being pruned correctly or during the wrong time of the year which will drastically affect the fruit production!
By using information you learn in this article along with watching a You Tube video you will be ready to tackle the job as soon as you have your tree trimming tools handy!
How To Prune Apple Trees
Now you are ready to dive into learning how to prune apple trees!
You will read about how to prune apple trees and where to make cuts on the branches and why pruning apple trees are better for the tree than simply letting the tree grow wild!
First you will want to remove any dead or injured branches. Cut them off at the base of the branch against the tree trunk or where it connects to a larger branch.
Then start from the bottom of the tree and work your way up the tree looking for the main branches that are the structure of the tree. Leave these branches unless 2 are growing to close together then remove the smaller one.
Look for any crossing or interfering branches normally found toward the center of the tree and remove them if needed. You will probably find some suckers grow from the tree trunk at the ground or within the first few feet up from the ground, those should be removed every year as well.
Make sure the inside of the tree has ample space and that sunlight can shine through. If it is to crowded remove some of the smaller limbs growing straight up to allow sunshine and better air circulation.
At the top and edges of the tree you will want to shorten each branch back several feet to keep the tree compact and sturdier, able to hold the weight of a crop of apples. A good idea is to remove 30% of last years’ growth.
The center leader of the tree should be pruned most years as well to keep the tree shorter and promote branches to grow out the side which will result in more fruit.
On each main branches there will be smaller and darker colored branches. These are where the fruit grows. Take care with these branches and some of them will need to be removed if they are growing too close together or are growing in the wrong direction like toward the center of the tree. They should be evenly spaced and growing outward and upward.
When Is The Best Time To Prune Apple Trees?
While learning how to prune apple trees you will need to know the best time to prune for optimal fruit production. Almost aways the best time for pruning is in late winter or very early spring while the tree is still dormant. Although any time during the winter can usually work fine. Although an early winter pruning could slightly lessen the trees hardiness to the long cold winter.
By pruning when the tree is dormant the advantage there is once spring rolls around the tree is ready to begin growing again, sending new growth where it needs to, depending on what you wanted when you made the pruning cuts.
Pruning the tree in the summer when it is active and growing won’t kill it like you may assume or may have heard from others. It will cause more of an effect on the crop of apples for that harvest though, plus put more stress on the tree while its is growing the apples, so all major pruning is recommended during the winter.
Any small twigs sprouting from the main trunk and the base of the large branches can be removed right away, these are unnecessary and will take energy from the tree that should be directed to branches growing apples at the right places.
Why Must Apple Trees Be Pruned?
Perhaps your apple tree was not pruned for many years and is now overgrown but is still producing fruit. An apple tree will still produce fruit even if it is never pruned although it is likely the apples will be a little smaller than a pruned tree. Also, another huge advantage of continuous pruning keeps the tree much smaller so we are able to reach all the apples easier.
Over time an unpruned tree could grow lopsided or even have branches being broken from the weight of the apples. Depending on where the branch breaks from it could leave a huge wound in the trunk of the tree and then disease could get into the tree causing it to get sick and eventually die.
Another benefit of pruning apple trees every year is that by keeping after the tree you can cut unwanted branches while they are still small and will heal quickly. Even better you can steer the branches in the direction you want them to grow by selective pruning, cutting the branch at a bud so it grows in another direction. Doing this will keep the tree evenly shaped and full of well-placed branches with each branch having ample room and sunlight to produce optimal apples!
Harvest Time! The Fun Part!
Finally, you are ready to sit back and watch your tree and apples grow throughout the summer and then enjoy them when they are ripe in the fall!
If you have any other questions be sure to ask them in the comment section below and I will answer them for you!