1 The team started at the pear grove behind my gym building. Compared to apple trees, pear trees naturally develop more narrow, angled, and upright branches.
2 A pole lopper was used to reach the higher branches of new growth closer to the top.
3 Dead branches, or those without any signs of new growth, are also cut, so the energy is directed to the branches with fruiting buds.
4 Next were the apple trees near the Winter House. Valentino was able to easily reach these branches with his hand pruners.
5 Leo showed some of the essential tools the team uses. This is a pole pruner attachment and a telescoping pole - it's used to cut branches in high, hard to reach areas that are about an inch to an inch and half thick.
6 The larger of the two saws is the top part of a pole saw. It also attaches to a telescoping pole, and is used to prune branches at least an inch-thick.
7 A pruning hand saw is used for lower branches that are tougher to cut with regular hand pruners.
8 And of course, pruning experts are never without their trusted pair of snips.
9 In addition to their pruning equipment, the crew always has safety gear nearby - fall protection harnesses, climbing ropes and latches.
10 It is easy to see where any branch was previously cut.
11 Another branch was growing right next to this one - most likely a criss-crossing branch or one without any fruiting buds. As time passed, the bark grew over the point at which it was cut.
12 Another apple tree on the list for winter pruning was the one just outside the blog studio.
13 Danny cut branches that were rubbing or criss-crossing each other, preventing healthy new growth.
14 This team is very well trained in climbing - this is crucial in order to keep both the worker and the tree safe and intact.
15 Branches too thick to cut with clippers were cut with a handsaw.
16 The new growth should be pruned fairly flush to the branch from which it grew.
17 The idea is to leave slight stubs. By removing any more, the remaining branch has too much of an opening for disease to enter.
18 Any tree trimming work can expose eyes to dust, wood particles, and insects, so it's vital to wear proper eye protection. These experts also wear non-conductive hard hats and gloves.
19 A closeup of a crutch supporting the heavy branch of this apple tree. The natural "V" shaped notch in the trunk is perfect for this purpose.
20 Behind the herbaceous peony bed are several old apple trees. The vigorous, upward-growing branches on these trees is all last year's new growth, which needed to be removed.
21 The trees are at least 50-years old, so they were already here when I moved to the farm.
22 Danny Broglino is a 27-year veteran of SavATree. He has a degree in forestry, and is also a certified arborist and pruning expert. He's been caring for my trees since I took over the property.
23 In the springtime, apple trees flower and produce fruit on long-lived, stubby twigs called spurs, often referred to as old wood.
24 On healthy trees, about a third of the growth can be pruned. Spur branches where the apple tree flowers and sets fruit are the most preferred. Pruning encourages the tree to grow more of these fruiting spurs by removing competing suckers and unproductive wood.
25 My dear Sicilian donkeys, the three amigos, came over to check out what was happening to the apple trees.
26 Rufus and Clive are always so eager to greet visitors.
27 And Billie is never far behind.
28 The shorter branches on the left are just as old as the taller ones on the right; however, the taller ones are the more vigorous ones, and the ones that needed pruning.
29 One by one, those upright shoots were removed with sharp clippers.
30 Danny explained the two main goals of pruning trees. On young trees, pruning encourages a strong, solid framework.
31 On mature trees, like these, pruning maintains a desirable shape and encourages fruit production.
32 Danny stopped every so often to assess the shape of the tree. He also explained that traditionally, apple trees were always encouraged to stay shorter, so apples were easier to reach.
33 After all the branches are cut, they are gathered, neatly piled and then processed through a wood chipper to make mulch.
34 After they were finished, the apple trees looked great.
35 By afternoon, we found Danny and his crew at the ancient apple trees in my south paddock.
36 Leo, Danny and Valentino are very familiar with all the trees at my farm and always do a great job when they visit.