Fruit trees, like all perennials, are a great source of food for years to come, and should therefore be taken care of to keep them healthy and productive. Some find it hard to bring themselves to cut anything from their fruit trees thinking that pruning will harm the tree, or that it will reduce productivity since in other cases in the garden, the more the plant grows the more food that it will be able to produce. But this isn’t the case, fruit trees can benefit greatly from pruning when it is done correctly. Here are a few tips for pruning your fruit trees.
Always use a sharp saw or sharp snips. If your tools are dull you can cause the branches to break or split rather than produce a clean cut. Splitting will increase the risk of disease and will cause the affected portion of the tree to die back. When removing a large heavy branch make a cut at least two feet from the crotch since the weight will likely cause a snap, then the final cut can be made at the crotch after the weight has been removed.
It’s important to know which branches to remove. Focus on broken or sick branches first. Then look for branches that interfere with each other or point back to the center of the tree. Branches with sharp angles are likely to split when weighed down with fruit, remove branches with angles sharper than 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. All shoots coming from the roots can be removed, they will only interfere with the top branches are unlikely to produce good fruit.
Pruning should be done when the tree is dormant. This is when the tree is not growing, for the most part this will be in the winter or the fall. Emergency pruning, like branches that have been damaged by wind or broken under the weight of fruit should always be removed as soon as possible and not left until winter. Root shoots can also be removed out of season.
Proper pruning can help your fruit trees, so don’t shy away from removing a few well-selected branches this winter.
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