If you grow these wonderful fruit trees, the best time to prune them is now - in winter - or in very early spring before any new growth begins. Pruning not only helps to develop proper shape and form, but also encourages new growth, promotes high fruit yield, and maintains good tree health. At the farm, I have both apple and pear trees that are pruned regularly. My arborists at SavATree visit each winter specifically to prune the larger fruit trees, while my outdoor grounds crew helps to tackle the smaller ones. And, each summer, we see the wonderful fruits of all their labor.
Enjoy these photos.
I have many, many apple trees at the farm, and a good number of them are at least 50-years old, so they were already here when I purchased the property.
My outdoor grounds crew is busy pruning the apple trees behind the Contemporary House.
They already pruned quite a bit – these branches will be chipped and reused in the garden later.
Chhewang has become an excellent pruner, and oversees a lot of the smaller tree pruning projects at the farm.
Smaller twigs are snipped off with regular secateurs. Each member of my outdoor grounds crew has their own pair.
And of course, we love Okatsune Hand Pruners, with their distinguishable red and white handles. These eight-inch long shears are made from Izumo Yasuki Japanese steel, and are angled to provide a smooth, clean cut without crushing. Ours come from A.M. Leonard.
Pruning encourages the tree to grow more of these fruiting spurs by eliminating competing suckers and unproductive wood.
Removing the competing tree branches also helps to let in light and promote good air circulation.
Here, Chhewang uses a pruning hand saw for lower branches that are tougher to cut with regular hand pruners.
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.
The final cut on each unwanted bough needs to be alongside the “branch collar”, a raised ring of bark where the branch intersects with another branch. Growth cells concentrate in these nodes, causing fast bark regrowth which seals the cuts.
Chhewang carefully selects his cuts, making sure to electively cut branches growing more horizontal to the ground. He also makes cuts where the branches appear overcrowded.
Mature trees usually already have their shape determined, so it’s important to maintain their shape and size. Traditionally, apple trees were always encouraged to stay shorter, so apples were easier to reach.
This is 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.
This apple tree looks great after pruning. I am looking forward to many lustrous green trees heavy with rosy red fruit come autumn.
Our friends from SavATree were also at the farm, pruning trees in the pear grove behind my gym building. Compared to apple trees, pear trees naturally develop more narrow, angled, and upright branches. http://www.savatree.com
This top tool is a pole pruner, or lopper, 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. The larger of the two is a pole saw. It also attaches to a telescoping pole, and is used to prune branches at least an inch-thick.
I prefer loppers and pole saws – manual tools that will give my trees a more natural appearance and shape.
Here, a pole pruner is used to reach the new growth at the top of the tree.
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, gloves and reflective vests.
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.
Danny cut branches that were rubbing or criss-crossing each other, preventing healthy new growth.
The new growth should be pruned fairly flush to the branch from which it grew.
The idea is to leave slight stubs. By removing any more, the remaining branch has too much of an opening for disease to enter.
Danny explained the two main goals of pruning trees. On young trees, pruning encourages a strong, solid framework. Branches too thick to cut with clippers were cut with a handsaw.
And on mature trees, pruning encourages fruit production.
Danny stopped every so often to assess the shape of the trees as his team worked on them.
Dead branches, or those without any signs of new growth, are also cut, so the energy is directed to the branches with fruiting buds.
After all the branches are cut, they are gathered, neatly piled and then processed through a wood chipper to make mulch.
Danny and his team come each winter to prune before any new growth starts. It’s great to know all my trees are well maintained through the years.