HOW TO PRUNE FRUIT TREES

 

APPLES

 

            THERE IS NO SET TYPE FOR THE SHAPE OF A BEARING APPLE TREE, BECAUSE, DEPENDING UPON VARIETY, THE YOUNGER TREES WILL VARY FROM GROWING ERECT AND SLENDER TO OPEN AND SPREADING.  EVENTUALLY AS THE TREE MATURES, IT WILL DEVELOP INTO A FINE SPREADING TYPE.  OBSERVE YOUR PARTICULAR TREE AND IF IT IS OF THE NARROW ERECT TYPE, ACCORDING TO ITS INITIAL GROWTH, MAKE YOUR PRUNING CUTS JUST ABOVE BUDS, WHICH ARE POINTED AWAY FROM THE CENTER OF THE TREE.  IF YOUR VARIETY OF APPLE IS OF THE SPREADING TYPE MAKE THE CUTS ABOVE BUDS POINTED TOWARD THE CENTER OF THE TREE.  THE TIME FOR PRUNING IS DURING THE WINTER MONTHS.

 

            ALL APPLES PRODUCE THEIR FRUIT ON “SPURS”, WHICH ARE FORMED ON THE BRANCHES ONE YEAR OLD OR MORE, USUALLY IN THE LOWER PORTION OF THESE BRANCHES.  THESE “SPURS”ARE DEVELOPED FROM THE SHORT LATERAL GROWTHS THAT VARY IN LENGTH FROM ONE TO THREE INCHES.  AFTER THEY HAVE DEFINITELY FORMED THEY CAN BE RECOGNIZED BY THEIR THICK STUBBY APPEARANCE.  THE SPURS PRODUCE BLOSSOMS AND FRUIT YEAR AFTER YEAR, AND SHOULD BE SAVED WHENEVER POSSIBLE.

 

            WHEN PRUNING THE APPLE TREE, FIRST CUT OUT ANY DEAD OR DECEASED BRANCHES, BEING CAREFUL TO MAKE CUTS CLOSE TO THE MAIN BRANCH, WITHOUT LEAVING ANY STUB.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE ALL APPLES ARE QUITE SUSCEPTIBLE TO ROT, WHICH CAN EASILY START IN A STUB WHICH IS LEFT LONG ENOUGH TO DIE BACK, RATHER THAN HEAL OVER WITH BARK AND NEW WOOD GROWTH.

 

            SECOND, CUT AWAY ANY INTERFERING WOOD, OR BRANCHES THAT ARE RUBBING AGAINST ONE ANOTHER, OR THAT HAVE COME DOWN TOO CLOSE TO THE GROUND AND HINDER CULTIVATION.

 

            THIRD, CUT OUT SUFFICIENT OF LAST YEAR’S BRANCH GROWTH TO EVENLY SPACE ALL BRANCHES, ALLOWING EVEN SUNLIGHT PENETRATION THROUGHOUT THE TREE TOP.  IN DOING THIS CUTTING, BE CAREFUL TO LEAVE ALL ESTABLISHED FRUIT SPURS AND THOSE SMALL LATERAL BUD DEVELOPMENTS THAT ARE TO BE FUTURE FRUIT SPURS.

 

            IF THE TREE IS MAKING A NORMALLY RAPID GROWTH, ESPECIALLY A YOUNG TREE, THE NEW BRANCH GROWTH MUST BE CUT OFF JUST ABOVE THE FRUIT SPURS.  IN THE CASE OF YOUNG TREES, THIS WILL MEAN ABOUT TWO THIRDS THEIR LENGTH.

 

            WATER SPROUTS OR SUCKER SHOULD BE CUT OUT AT ANY TIME THAT IT IS PROVEN BY THEIR GROWTH TO BE SUCH.   A SUCKER IS RAPID GROWING SHOOT THAT COMES FROM BELOW THE GROUND AND SHOULD BE REMOVED AS SOON AS THEY APPEAR.  WATER SPROUTS ARE ABOVE GROUND SUCKERS AND ARE RECOGNIZED BY THEIR HABIT OF GROWTH, WHICH IS EXCESSIVE IN COMPARISON WITH THE REST OF THE BRANCH GROWTH OF THE TREE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEACHES

 

            THERE ARE FEW FRUIT TREES THAT BENEFIT FROM HEAVY PRUNING, AS DOES THE PEACH.  THE SIZE AND QUALITY OF THE FRUIT IS GOVERNED BY WHETHER OR NOT THE TREE IS PROPERLY PRUNED.  THIS PRUNING IS TO BE DONE DURING THE WINTER DORMANT PERIOD.

 

            PEACHES WILL STAND, AND BE BETTER FOR IT, A HEAVIER REMOVAL OF OLD WOOD THAN ANY OTHER FRUIT TREE.  FREQUENTLY IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO PRUNE OUT AS MUCH AS SEVENTY TO SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT OF THE PREVIOUS SEASON’S GROWTH.

 

            THE PEACH BEARS ITS FRUIT QUITE DIFFERENTLY THAN ANY OTHER TYPE OF TREE, AND THIS CHARACTERISTIC MUST BE THOROUGHLY UNDERSTOOD.   THE FRUIT WILL ALPPEAR ON THE TWIGS AND BRANCHES, WHICH GREW DURING THE PAST SUMMER.  ALTHOUGH THERE WILL BE BLOSSOMS THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF THESE TWIGS, THE ONLY FLOWERS THAT SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO SET ARE THOSE IN THE CENTRAL 1/3 SECTION OF THESE TWIGS.  THEREFORE AFTER THE TREE HAS BEEN PROPERLY SHAPED BY THINNING, HEAD BACK ALL OF THESE TWIGS 1/3 OF THEIR LENGTH.  KEEP THIS IN MIND WHILE DOING THE SHAPING.

 

            THE PROCEDURE TO FOLLOW FOR THE PRUNING OF PEACHES IS AS FOLLOWS:

 

1                    CUT OUT ANY DEAD BRANCHES, WHICH ARE ON THE TREE.  THE OLDER THE TREE THE MORE OF THESE THERE WILL BE.

 

2                    CUT OUT THE LEAST DESIRABLE OF ANY CROSSING OR RUBBING BRANCHES.  THE BRANCH THAT REMAINS SHOULD BE LOCATED AS TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE GENERAL GOOD FORM OF THE TREE.  ALSO CUT OUT ANY BRANCHES THAT BORE FRUIT LAST SUMMER.   THESE WILL NOT BEAR FRUIT AGAIN, SO REMOVE THEM.

 

3                    THE SHAPE TO BE DESIRED FOR THE TREE IS THAT OF A FUNNEL, WITH THE BRANCHES FORMING THE SLOPING SIDES AND THE CENTER TOP LEFT OPEN FOR COMPLETE PENETRATION OF SUNLIGHT.  THIS OPEN CENTER WILL PERMIT BETTER RIPENING OF THE FRUIT.

 

4                    BEGIN TO THIN OUT THE BRANCHES ALL THROUGH THE TREE, IN SUCH A WAY AS TO GIVE AN EVEN DISTRIBUTION OF BRANCH GROWTH.  DO NOT HESITATE TO HEAD BACK TALL GROWTH, BECAUSE PEACH WOOD IS BRITTLE AND A TALL TREE IS ALMOST SURE TO SHED OTHERWISE GOOD LIMBS WHEN THEY ARE HEAVY WITH FRUIT.  MAKE THE CUTS CAREFULY WITH AND EYE TO THE LOCATION OF THE ONE-YEAR-OLD TWIGS, OR THE FRUITING BRANCHES.  WHEN FINISHED, THESE ONE-YEAR-OLD WIGS SHOULD BE ABOUT ONE FOOT APART ALL OVER THE TOP OF THE TREE.

 

5                    WHEN THE SHAPING HAS BEEN COMPLETED, AND AT THIS POINT THERE SHOULD BE BETTER THAN 60% OF THE TREE ON THE GROUND, IT IS TIME TO HEAD BACK ALL OF THE ONE YEAR OLD TWIGS AND BRANCHES PEPARATORY TO FRUIT BUD DEVELOPMENT.  AS NOTED IN A PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH, CUT BACK ALL OF THIS ONE YEAR OLD GROWTH, 1/3 OF ITS LENGTH.  THIS HEADING BACK THROWS THE MAXIMUM STRENGTH INTO THE FRUIT BUDS, WHICH HAVE BEEN LEFT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEARS

 

PRUNING IS DONE DURING THE WINTER MONTHS, WHILE THE TREE IS DORMANT.

 

THE FIRST YEAR SHOULD BE DEVOTED TO TRAINING THE SCAFFOLD LIMBS.  IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO HAVE A TREE WITH A GOOD STURDY FOUNDATION OF LIMBS THAN TO GET ONE OR TWO FRUIT A YEAR EARLY.

 

THE GENERAL HABIT OF ALL PEAR TREES IS TO SEND UP A GREAT DEAL OF TALL WHIP-LIKE BRANCHES FROM THE CENTER OF THE TREE, ESPECIALLY IN YOUNG TREES, AND THE PRUNER MUST WORK EVERY YEAR TO KEEP THE HEAD OF THE TREE DOWN, DIRECTING THE VITALITY INTO THE FRUIT BEARING SPURS, WHICH WILL DEVELOP ON THE OLDER WOOD.

 

THE FIRST THING TO CONSIDER IN PRUNING OF A PEAR TREE IS THE REMOVAL OF ANY DEAD WOOD, WHICH ON YOUNG TREES WILL BE VERY LIMITED.

 

SECOND, CUT OUT ANY INTERFERING OR CROSSING BRANCHES, THAT IS , BRANCHES WHICH ARE RUBBING ONE ANOTHER.  REMOVE THE ONE, WHICH CONTRIBUTES THE LEAST TO THE TREE’S GOOD SHAPE.

 

THIRD, THIN OUT ANY NEW GROWTHS OF WHIP-LIKE TALL SHOOTS WHERE THY HAVE GROWN IN AN OVERCROWDED MANNER.

 

FOURTH, HEAD BACK THE MORE SUBSTANTIAL WHIP GROWTHS ABOUT TWO THIRDS OF THEIR LENGTH.  THIS CUTTING WILL FORCE THE TREE’S VITALITY INTO THE MAIN BODY OF THE TREE-HEAD, CAUSING THE GREATEST AMOUNT OF STRENGTH TO GO TO THE FRUIT SPURS.

 

FRUIT SPURS ARE THE SHORT STUBBY GROWTHS, WHICH HAVE BEEN DEVELOPING ON THE OLDER BRANCHES.  THEY WILL VARY IN SHAPE AND LENGTH, BUT MOST FREQUENTLY HAVE A KNOB-LIKE END, WHICH IS COVERED WITH NEW BUDS.  THESE SPURS WILL PRODUCE FRUIT YEAR AFTER YEAR, AND SHOULD NEVER BE PRUNED OFF UNLESS THEY DIE FROM OLD AGE, OR ARE KILLED WITH DISEASE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLUMS

 

 

PRUNE THE PLUMS IN THE WINTER WHILE THE TREES ARE DORMANT.

 

PLUMS DO THEIR BEST FRUIT PRODUCING FROM FRUIT SPURS, WHICH MAY APPEAR ON ANY BRANCH AFTER IT IS TWO OR MORE YEARS OLD.  THEREFORE THE PRUNING SYSTEM SHOULD BE ONE, WHICH DEVELOPS THESE FRUIT SPURS.

 

UNTIL THE TREE IS ABOUT TEN YEARS OLD, THE TRAINING PROGRAM WILL CONTINUE , BY HEADING BACK THE LONG WHIP-LIKE BRANCHES ABOUT TWO-THIRDS TO THREE-QUARTERS OF THEIR LENGTH, WHERE THEY HAVE GROWN IN A POSITION TO BENEFIT THE DESIRED FORM FOR THE TREE.

 

AFTER ABOUT THE THIRD YEAR, THE FRUIT SPURS WILL BEGIN TO DEVELOP ON THE OLDEST BRANCHES, AND THESE SMALL GNARLED, STUBBY GROWTHS WILL PRODUCE FRUIT YEAR AFTER YEAR.  ALWAYS SAVE THE BRANCHES WITH FRUIT SPURS, WHEREVER POSSIBLE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRAPES

 

 

THE GRAPES THAT WE OFFER SHOULD BE CANE PRUNED—MOST OF THE WINE GRAPES AND A FEW TABLE GRAPES SHOULD BE SPUR PRUNED.

 

CANE  PRUNED VARIETIES WILL DEVELOP FRUITING WOOD AWAY FROM THE BASE OF THE CANE, LEAVE LONG CANES TO TRAIN ON WIRES OR TRELLIS.  MOST CANE  PRUNED VARIETIES ARE EXCELLENT FOR ARBORS.

 

SPUR PRUNED VARIETIES DEVELOP FRUITING WOOD CLOSE TO THE BASE OF THE CANES—PRUNE BACK TO WITHIN SEVERAL BUDS TO LEAVE SMALL SPURS FOR DEVELOPMENT OF NEW WOOD.  THIS METHOD IS USED FOR MOST WINE GRAPES AND A FEW TABLE GRAPES.

 

THE FIRST YEAR THAT THE GRAPE IS PLANTED  OUT SHOULD BE DEVOTED TO TRAINING ONLY.  PLACE A VERTICAL SAKE BY THE PLANT SO THAT THERE IS TWO FEET OF STAKE ABOVE THE GROUND AND ALLOW ONLY ONE CANE TO GROW BY SELECTING THE STRONGEST AND CUTTING OFF ALL OTHER LATERAL OR SIDE SHOOTS, WHICH MAY START.  THIS WILL FORCE ALL OF THE SEASON’S GROWTH INTO THE ONE CANE, WHICH MAY BE TIED AT INTERVALS TO THE STAKE TO KEEP THE STEM STRAIGHT.  WHEN THE ONE CANE REACHES THE TOP OF THE STAKE, TIE IT FIRMLY AND ALLOW IT TO SPRAWL AROUND AT WILL FOR THE REST OF THE GROWING PERIOD.

 

DURING THE WINTER THE MAIN CANE SHOULD BE CUT OFF ABOUT TWO INCHES ABOVE THE TOP OF THE STAKE.  IN THE SPRING WHEN THE NEW GROWTH STARTS ALLOW ONLY THE TWO TOP BUDS OR JOINTS TO SEND OUT SHOOTS.  CUT OFF SMOOTH WITH THE SIDE OF THE BRANCH, ANY SHOOTS, WHICH APPEAR ON WHAT, MAY NOW BE CALLED THE TRUNK, OR STEM.

 

THROUGH THE SUMMER GROWING SEASON ALLOW THESE TWO SHOOTS, OR CANES, TO MAKE WHATEVER GROWTH THEY WILL, WITHOUT FURTHER TRAINING OR PRUNING.

 

NOW WILL BEGIN THE REGULAR ANNUAL SYSTEM, WHICH MUST BE FOLLOWED EVERY WINTER.

 

DURING THE WINTER SEASON WHILE THE GRAPE IS DORMANT IS THE TIME THAT PRUNING SHOULD BE DONE.  ALL CANES THAT GREW THE PAST SUMMER MUST BE CUT BACK TO JUST ABOVE THE SECOND BUD OR JOINT FROM THE BASE OF THE ONE YEAR OLD CANES.  THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A GROUP OF LATENT BUDS RIGHT AT THE BASE OF THE CANE, WHICH WILL ONLY BE FORCED IN CASE THE OTHER BUDS ARE DAMAGED IN SOME WAY.   COUNT OUT FROM THE BASE OF THE CANE, TWO BUDS OR JOINTS AND CUT THE CANE OFF ABOUT A HALF INCH BEYONG THE SECOND BUD.

 

IF THE PLANT IS STRONG, BOTH OF THESE BUDS WILL START GROWING IN THE SPRING, AND IF THEY DO, LEAVE THEM  THE BUNCHES OF GRAPES WILL APPEAR ON THIS NEW GROWTH, WHICH HAS STARTED, FROM THE SHORT STUBS THAT WERE LEFT.

 

BE SURE TO DO THE PRUNING AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IN THE FALL AFTER THE LEAVES HAVE ALL DROPPED, BECAUSE AT THIS TIME THERE IS NO SAP ACTIVITY AND THE CANES WILL NOT BLEED AS A RESULT OF BEING CUT.