Pruning Fruit Trees

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I have a friend with a few fruit trees that I will be helping to prune. A couple of key points to remember when pruning fruit trees are: 1. Don’t remove more than 1/3 of the limbs in the tree. Removing too much will cause the plant to send up a lot of water causing sprouts that will need to be removed the following year. 2. The idea is to open the tree up to allow more sunlight to penetrate deeper into the tree. More sunlight means more fruit. Opening the tree also allows for better air flow through the tree, which dries the foliage and prevents leaf spots and other fungal diseases. 3. Know where the fruit will be on the tree. Peaches, nectarines and plums have fruit along the wood of last year’s growth. Apples and pears produce fruit at the tips of the branches and on short branches called pins. Knowing where the fruit is produced makes it easier not to remove the flower buds.

Blueberry bushes should be pruned much like rose bushes in the sense that the older canes should be removed, but the tops of the other stems will remain attached. This makes pruning these bushes quick and easy. The older the stem is the smaller the fruit will be that is produced on the stem. We all love big blueberries so leave the young stems to produce the berries.

A few people have asked me when to prune their blackberry bushes this winter. While I didn’t know we had that many of these bushes around here, they don’t need to be pruned until after they flower and set fruit. However, any pruning now should be to remove any dead, damaged or diseased wood.