How to Prune a Fruit Tree

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Pruning your fruit tree regularly is essential not only to get rid of branches which have caught diseases or are partially broken due, but to allow for new growth to take place and improve the air circulation through it, thus avoiding diseases. Pruning can also allow more sunlight to reach the fruit, and is especially important for varieties which on fruit on recent growth. If these trees remain unpruned, as the tree grows the fruit will only appear on the very outermost growth, which will mostly be out of reach!

Since fruit trees come in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as having different requirements of wind and sunlight, it is essential to know what kind of pruning is best for your fruit tree. This guide covers generally pruning styles and a few extra tips, but you must also research the specific requirements of your fruit tree varieties. Some prefer pruning before flowering, others, later in the year. Some also may not need pruning in the first few years of life.

Types of fruit tree pruning:

1)      Open centre pruning: This type of pruning is used for trees which bear apricots, peaches, cherries, almonds, plums, figs and other trees which are similar in nature. Sometimes, people choose to use it for pear and apple trees as well. Also known as the vase shaped system, open centre pruning involves keeping the top branches light so as to allow light to reach the lower levels of the tree.

2)      Central leader pruning: Often used for Apple trees, central leader pruning involves keeping the tree shaped like a Christmas tree, with the branches tapering in length as one goes higher up the tree, so that sunlight can reach the lower branches from the sides instead of cutting through the middle, as is the case with open centre pruning. This method is also often used with trees which bear nuts and pear trees.

3)      Modified central leader pruning: in this type of pruning, the branches of the tree which are allowed to grow unhindered are kept vertical and spaced out from each other. The spacing has to be kept wide enough as it ensures that all parts of the tree get sunlight and thus prevents from a shoot in the lower branch getting rotten. Modified central leader pruning is the most preferred form of pruning in walnut trees, though it is often also done on persimmons.

Other pruning tips:

1)      One must get accustomed to pruning equipment beforehand so as to not cause harm to oneself or the tree while pruning.

2)      While doing fruit tree pruning, one must ensure that the pruning cuts have been made smoothly, else there is the danger of rot setting in the region.

3)      Adequate research should be done about how much of the tree can be pruned, which is relative to the type, size and age of the tree to be pruned.

4)      Usually, more than 25% of the green covering of the tree should not be removed, though exceptions prevail, especially in the case of young trees.

5)      A wound dressing on an improperly made cut should be given, since it is believed that this protects from insects and decay.


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