Top 10 Tips for Successful Pruning
Here are the top ten disciplines to undertake when pruning your fruit trees…
10 Tips for Successfully Pruning Your Fruit Trees
- Start by sharpening your pruning saw, your secateurs and your long-handled secateurs. Then clean them with methylated spirits. When pruning, you should not be straining your hands or arms. If it’s too much effort with your hand-held secateurs, use the long-handled ones. If it’s too hard with them, use your saw. In this way, you match the correct tool to the size of the limb or branch.
- Next prune out any suckers from the rootstock. This would be anything growing below the graft point on the tree. On a standardised or topiarised tree that means anything from the ground, up the stem until the top graft point.
- Prune out water shoots growing inside the canopy of the tree. These shoots will usually present as vigorous upward growing shoots that are competing with the main leaders on your tree. Should you ever lose a limb on your tree, a water shoot can be selected and pruned down to replace it. However, removal is best practice.
- Remove any old fruit hanging on the tree and any fruit fallen to the ground.
- Look carefully to identify any damage, disease on the tree, and broken or torn limbs.
- Remove any dieback in the tree from bad pruning cuts back to the branch socket point.
- Remove any crossing limbs, or limbs that are rubbing together, as these will wound the tree.
- If there are a lot of limbs on the tree and the canopy is crowded, you may need to take some of the limbs out to open up the tree, for light and airflow. If this is the case, you should favour the limbs with good branch angles (close to 45 degrees) and remove the limbs the are growing either close-to-horizontal or with very sharp upward angles.
- Lowering the top of your tree is essential in managing the tree and fruit height.
- Finish by tip pruning the tree. There are exceptions to this rule: for example, tip pruning a persimmon could mean removal of an entire season’s fruit. Peaches should be tip pruned to remove at least a third of the fruit. In cases of a really healthy tree, I have tip pruned half of the previous year’s growth and still had heavy crops. Don’t remove all the shoots on your plums or they will have a tendency to overproduce wood rather than producing spurs.
As always, should you need someone to help you with this task, give me a call.