Pruning Apple Trees
You should be pruning apple trees in the late winter or early spring.
- When you cut a tree, it leaves an “open wound”. It takes some time for the tree to create a “scab” over the cut area. The raw wood is less susceptible to bug infestation in the early spring.
- It’s easier to see the shape of the tree when there aren’t blossoms and leaves on it.
- The direction of the tree needs to be set before it starts its growth spurt in the spring.
A Few Basic Guidelines:
Learn how to prune apple trees by following these simple guidelines. Remember that when pruning apple trees you're directing its growth.
- As you prune your apple tree continually walk around tree. Is the tree balanced? How does it look from this angle? Now change your point of view and ask the same question.
- Cut out branches that are growing horizontally. The branches should angle upwards. When the fruit gets heavy, horizontal branches can’t hold the weight of the fruit and bend and crack. This can cause severe damage to the trunk of the tree.
- Trim out branches that are growing toward the ground. They’re going the wrong direction.
- When you have two branches that are crossing over each other, keep the one that best supports the shape of the tree.
- Crop all the apple tree branches off and a certain height. I stand on the ground and cut the branches off as high as I can reach with the clippers.
You don’t want the apple tree to get too tall. You should be able to easily pick apples from a medium sized ladder.
If you let the tree grow tall not only is it hard to pick the fruit, but the energy from the tree goes to tree growth instead of fruit development and production.
- The last thing to do is to look at the openness of the tree. Can the sunlight get down to the developing fruit? If the branches are too crowded, you’ll need to cut out some of them.
Remember each tree is its own unique piece of art. Pruning apple trees can be compared to good parenting. You need to keep working at it every year. Work with the tree and guide its growth. Feed it. Nourish it, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Have fun. Use common sense and good judgment. Trees are very forgiving. If you make a mistake, next year you can fix it when new branches grow back.
NOTE: If you’re having problems with mice, rodents, and small animals that want to eat the tender bark of your young fruit trees, you can protect the tree. Buy some ¼” Galvanized Hardware Cloth and wrap the bottom of your tree. We lost about 2/3 of our orchard one year to mice. This meshed wire solved the problem. When the tree gets its tough bark, you don’t need the hardware cloth anymore. Remove the wire mesh before the tree grows around it.
The deer love young tender fruit trees. If you have a lot a wild life coming into your yard, you might want to build a deer fence around your orchard.
Growing Apple Trees from Pruning Apple Trees
Homemade Apple Juice
Making Apple Cider
How to Store Apples