Whether you have peach, cherry, or plum trees, you look forward to harvesting fruit every year. To keep your beautiful trees blooming, pruning is a must. While it might seem counterintuitive, trees actually thrive once certain branches are trimmed and cut away. To help you have a happy harvest, here are a few basic fruit tree pruning tips.
- Pruning needs to be done at the right time. It’s best only to prune when there are no leaves present. During the early spring and winter, leaves are dormant. This makes it easier to see what you’re doing. Plus, the removal of dormant buds revitalizes the other buds. If you choose to wait until summer, it causes the fruit ripening process to slow down and exposes the tree to sunburn.
- The first pruning should happen right after planting. Once your new tree is in the soil, it’s important to trim it down. It should only remain 20 to 30 inches tall. Then, cut off any shoots below to only 1 or 2 buds each. This helps to equalize the root system. It’s also a good idea to paint the tree with white latex. This protects from bugs and sunburn.
- Younger trees require more pruning. During the first 3 years, young trees should be heavily pruned. However, it’s important that you leave most of the horizontal branches untouched. This allows for later fruit bearing.
- Create a good combination of vertical and horizontal branches. Vertical branches tend to grow quickly and healthily while horizontal branches are normally more fruitful. When pruning, it’s a good idea to create a good combination of the two.
- Always trim diseased branches. Any branches that are broken or diseased should be pruned to allow the nutrients to focus on a healthier part of the tree. Be sure to remove suckers, water sprouts, and competing branches that are sprouting straight up next to the tree. This allows your fruit trees to remain healthy and strong.
- Always prune more at the top of the tree. Sun exposure helps trees to produce more fruit. For this reason, it’s important to prune more at the top of the tree rather than at the base of the tree, where most branches are shaded.
- Prune correctly. Each cut should be clean and within ¼ inch of a bud. Don’t ever leave stubs on your tree. Make sure you are using sharp pruning shears and that you are wearing adequate protective gear. Protective eye wear and gloves are always recommended when pruning trees.
- Different types of trees need to be pruned differently. Peach, nectarine, grape, and kiwi trees need to have 50% of last years’ growth cut off each season. Pear, plum, apple, and apricot trees don’t grow quite as quickly. Only 20% of their last years’ growth needs to be removed each season.
Tree pruning in Athens is absolutely imperative to the health of your trees and the abundance of your harvest. If you have any questions or concerns about your trees’ health, allow the professionals to help. North American Tree Service is Athens’ resource for all things tree-related. From planning to pruning, when in doubt, call the experts!