Fruit trees require special care to ensure high-quality fruit production and good structure. At Baum Tree Care, our trained arborists are experts in the pruning and care of a wide variety of tree species, including apple, pear, cherry, and plum trees. In this blog, we’ll go over a few of our top tips for proper fruit tree pruning in Ontario.
The Goal of Pruning Fruit Trees
When pruning your fruit trees, your goal is to:
- Invigorate fruit production
- Train branches to grow in a desirable form
- Ensure good air circulation and light penetration
The best time to prune fruit trees is in the late winter or early spring, during the months when the tree is still dormant. It is important not to prune too early because it can cause dehydration and damage to the branch tissue. It is best to prune right before buds start to open and leaf out.
Quick Steps to Fruit Tree Pruning
It is generally important to do the following when pruning a fruit tree:
- Remove the deadwood first.
- Remove any diseased/interfering branches.
- Create a good shape for picking and production – branches that grow horizontally tend to produce more fruit.
- Remember that every pruning cut is a wound, so ensure you make each cut for a good reason.
Basic Anatomy of a Fruit Tree
“Spurs” are the short, stubby branches where the fruit is produced. When pruning, care needs to be taken make sure that there are enough spurs for a good crop, but not too many or the branch may break under the weight of the fruit. Spurs form on older growth.
Learning to identify the difference between last years’ growth vs. 2-year-old growth will also help you decide which cuts to make. When last years’ growth takes the form of a tall shoot, this is called a sucker. Suckers do not produce fruit and take energy away from fruit production — that’s the reason for the name! Managing suckers will help to increase crop size for your tree.
Other Important Factors for Healthy Fruit Trees
- Soil quality and structure
- Competition from other plants
- Selecting appropriate varieties for your region
- Appropriate planting site
- Application of horticultural oil in spring to help prevent various diseases
Selecting the appropriate soil quality for your tree can be a major fact in the tree’s success. This is particularly true for fruit trees, where nourishing soil has the potential to greatly increase the yields of your crop. Read our blog on soil quality to learn more on this topic.
In short, pruning fruit trees every spring can help ensure they remain in good health and produce a good crop of fruit in the fall. Once you understand the basics, it is not difficult to do yourself for a small number of trees.
If you own a larger property or if you’re still unsure about how to prune your fruit trees, our trained arborists can provide expert fruit tree pruning services. Call us today at (226) 383-2286 for a quote or contact us here to have your trees pruned.