Winter pruning of fruit trees
|Author: John Sanders||Published: 17th November 2008 11:28|
Do your apple trees bear a mass of small fruit? Do your apple trees not bear any fruit? Now is the time to put this to right with the sharp secateurs. It is no good cutting chunks of the tree away, it needs the use of the eyes to differentiate between fruit buds and wood ony buds.
If the tree is full of thin shoots coming from the main branches, these need to be removed. As one elderly fruit farmer once told me many years ago, " You must be able to through your hat through the middle of the tree." This is very good advice.
During winter dead, diseased and damaged branches are removed from apples and pears. Additional pruning depends upon the tree form. Plums and cherries are not pruned in winter when a major disease, silver leaf, is more prevalent.
Prune mid- to late winter, avoiding frosty spells, while the tree is dormant.
Young apples and pears
Bush: On planting (winter) prune the leader above three or four strong side shoots. Cut these side shoots by one-third to a well-placed bud, removing weaker shoots. Next winter reduce main branches by half and side shoots to four or five buds. Remove unwanted growth.
Dwarf pyramid: On planting tip the leader and prune laterals to 12.5cm (5in), cutting to a well-placed bud. Next year treat the leader and new laterals as before, pruning side shoots on one-year-old laterals to three buds.
Cordon: On planting prune laterals to three or four buds, leaving the leader un-pruned.
Espaliers: On planting prune the leader to a strong bud. Subsequent winters tip selected laterals and the leader until all arms are formed.
Established apples and pears
Fruiting habit and general pruning: Apples are either spur-bearers or tip-bearers, whereas most pears are spur-bearers. Spur-bearers (fruit borne along branches) require lateral shortening to four to six buds and spur thinning. Tip-bearers (fruit borne on branch tips) require lateral thinning.
Bush and dwarf pyramid: Remove congested growth , ensuring replacement shoots are present .
Tip-prune branch leaders to a well-placed bud.
Cordons, espaliers: Carry out general spur-thinning. Tip leaders of cordons, and arms of espaliers.