Fruit trees are pruned according to their age and growth cycle. Dense foliage obstructs the air passage to the tree’s centre and prevents proper treatment of the tree’s diseased parts, particularly those stuck behind the stems. Removing pests from fruit trees is also a way to keep these plants healthy. For all maintenance work, protect yourself with appropriate clothing, gloves and safety glasses. 

Planting trees usually occurs from mid-October to late April. They prefer sun exposure. Fruit trees provide fruit for fifty years. Pruning is not only essential for sustaining fruiting, but also to guarantee a harvest of large and tasty fruits. Nevertheless, pruning itself varies according to the results being sought and fruit tree species. Stone fruit trees, like cherries and plum trees, are pruned between the months of August and September. Past that time period, the trimmed stems will heal with difficulty. For any kind of pruning, it is advisable to apply a healing sealant to close the wounds. As for pomaceous fruit trees, such as apple trees or pear trees, their pruning will either occur in March or from November through April. At that time, the sap flow is reduced, which facilitates the regeneration of trimmed stems. Pruning also helps to stimulate sap circulation to the branches to generate buds that will bear future fruits.

The different types of pruning

Generally, a recently planted tree will be subjected to shape pruning, also known as formative pruning or goblet pruning, depending on the species to which the tree belongs. This type of pruning consists of rebalancing the tree’s bearing by first cutting off entangled branches.  To obtain more shoots, stems are trimmed just after a bud facing the outside of the plant. Sever new shoots growing on the main stem to turn it into the tree’s trunk. In total only keep the shoots that are at the end of scaffold branches. With regard to trees aged three years or more, clearing and thinning are required and can be achieved by regular pruning. First, the cleaning phase will only pertain to dead and worn-out branches. Moreover, remove all scrawny branches and only keep the vigorous ones. The same applies to rotten fruits that have not been picked. You’ll kill two birds with one stone, simultaneously eliminating diseases and insect pests. Secondly, another purpose of regular pruning is to air out the centre of the tree. That way, the fruit growing on the inside of a tree will receive sufficient sunlight to ripen in harmony with those located at the tips of branches. To do this, trim the bent branches without forgetting to remove those that intersect or grow towards the ground. Take advantage of thinning to remove dead leaves and optimize the pollination of flowers. Finally, fruit trees, whatever their species, need to be topped from time to time. Topping helps the sap to flow to all parts of the tree including side branches. To achieve the desired effect, cut off the main branches to stimulate the shoots’ recovery and to bring the fruits closer to the main branch. It should be noted that all maintenance pruning occurs once the growth cycle has ended, that is from the arrival of frost until the new blooming. However, it is advisable to prune stone fruit trees in September and pomaceous fruit trees much later. Always use clean and sharp tools and dip them in alcohol beforehand to sterilize them.

Applying insecticide on fruit trees

One one hand, insecticides are needed to protect fruit trees against diseases and, on the other, against pests that like to settle on branches, while feeding on the fruits’ flesh and laying in their eggs. This type of care takes place in winter to prevent the onset of disease. There are several kinds of insecticides that can be distinguished by their mode of action. Contact insecticides are products that directly eliminate insects. They can either be sprayed on each part of the plant or on the insect packs. Regarding natural insecticides, they are absorbed by the fruit tree and spread through the sap’s flow. The advantage of this type of insecticide is that it instantly kills insect that feed on the sap of a treated tree. Finally, direct acting insecticides are most effective when sprayed on each part of the tree. You can also opt for non-toxic insecticides such as those containing rotenone, pyrethrum or Bordeaux mixture. If your orchard is invaded by slugs during stormy season, it is advisable to use a water-resistant insecticide as well as slug traps.

Soil manuring of fruit trees 

In the fall and before blooming, the orchard’s soil must be enriched with fertilizers containing low levels of nitrogen. Mulching is the preferred method to prevent weed growth, while fertilizer enriched in phosphorus and potassium will be used in the spring season by incorporating compost to the planting soil. If you notice that some of the foliage turns yellow, then the soil lacks substrate.

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Published in Planting by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011