realenglishfruit

Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Top ten pruning tips – the maintenance principles of a medium-aged free-standing apple tree

So often one comes across apple trees in their prime of their life, being given a “short back and sides” type of pruning. Nothing is more destructive then that sort of treatment, as part of an attempt to keep the tree vigour under control. It will shorten the tree’s productive life and make it a prime target for attack by fungi.

Just consider these basic principles and adapt or modify the practice of winter or summer pruning accordingly:

1) Aim for the overall shape of the tree to be more like a pyramid. In that way the maximum surface area of the leaf canopy is exposed to the sunlight.

2) To maintain a natural pyramid shape, it is essential that the thickest branches are in the lower part of the tree.

3) Rejuvenate the upper part of the tree by removing thick older wood in order to make room for younger, more productive wood.

4) Remove all crossing branches.

5) Remove all surplus upright growth in the centre of the tree. In that way quality light is able to penetrate to the centre of the tree structure.

6) If the tree is becoming too tall, carry out the remedial pruning by the last week of August and NOT during the winter months.

7) Only cut in the ends of new young branches, when the tree is not growing enough. If the tree is growing too strongly never cut into branches (i.e. never cut them somewhere along their length). Instead remove entire branches, cutting back to their point of origin.

8. Remove unproductive branches on the lower part of the tree, if stem height needs to be increased.

9) Maintain throughout the tree a replacement policy: remove older wood so that the tree can form new productive wood. Seal wounds.

10) Feed the tree organically with regular applications of well rotted stable manure. However, do make sure this is to the benefit of the tree and not the weeds!

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