There are two groups of fruit trees: pomaceous fruit trees, such as pear, apple, etc … and stone fruit trees, such as cherry or peach. Although each group has its own growing characteristics, pruning is carried out by following simple principles. These include knowing which type of branches need to be cut, at what time period, before proceeding accordingly. These trees bear good fruit, and have excellent growth. 

Pruning a fruit tree consists of cutting off some stems to allow the tree to grow harmoniously and bear fruit regularly. Its execution must be carried out by taking into account some basic principles and following a few simple rules. Thus, before proceeding to pruning your tree, consider the group to which it belongs. Indeed, among fruit trees, fruit formation occurs differently in different groups. On pomaceous fruit trees, they are formed on twigs of one year or more, while older branches can continue to bear fruit. On the contrary, stone fruit trees only bear fruit on the previous year’s twigs. In other words, those who have already given fruit can no longer produce any. It is then necessary to identify the stems that need to be cut before you start trimming.

How to properly prune a fruit tree? 

To prune a fruit tree, it is necessary to have the right tools. A handsaw or clippers are well-suited to this task. These tools must be very sharp and clean. They will thus make clean cuts and avoid transmitting diseases to trees. If necessary, it is advisable to sanitize them with alcohol or a bleach solution. As for pruning itself, make sure the cut is clean and bevel. The cut should be made opposite the bud, about 3 or 4 mm above it. And if the severed parts are too important, they must be treated with healing product, such as grafting wax or Norway tar.

What needs to be removed when pruning fruit trees 

For this purpose, some rules are sufficient to guide you. Above all, greedy branches, dry or damaged stems, and unsightly twigs are to be removed. These include branches that grow vertically in force, and poorly-positioned or smothering twigs. It will already be easier to evaluate the work afterwards. Do not forget the beneficial effects of light and air. These two elements must be able to move around the plant’s body to reach its centre. Indeed, light stimulates the action of chlorophyllous leaves, triggers vegetation, and gives colour to the fruit. After that, it’s about reducing the frame to the minimum requirements. This step involves the removal of excess fruit branches.

What needs to be kept when pruning fruit trees 

Furthermore, it is recommended to keep as fruitwood those located near the mother branch. And since the best fruits are produced on young stems, it is essential to keep the ones that are young and strong. By doing so, be sure to avoid competition between crutches and branches. When pruning a fruit tree, it is important not to cut off the young, one year-old shoots. Proceeding in that manner would upset the tree’s balance, and delay its fruiting. It is also essential to maintain the shape and size of the tree. In practical terms, this consists of keeping the tree at a right height and size. Note that in general, good size corresponds to a rectangle shape, the width being greater than the height.

Other key points for properly pruning a fruit tree 

Also, think about channelling the plant’s strength. As it is often found high in the plant, it must be channelled by holding down the extended branches, while cutting them shorter when they are near the top of the tree. Still in that context, it is also necessary to provoke the adequate plant responses. Proceed according to the result you wish to achieve. Thereby, cut off branches to enable vegetation, or let them grow in length to stimulate fruiting and moderate their growth.

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Published in Pruning by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011