Winter is the best time to prune deciduous fruit trees such as apples, pears and plums. These trees will fruit whether or not they are pruned. The aim of pruning fruit trees is to produce reliable quality crops, with good size fruit on a manageable size tree. Deciduous trees are pruned in winter, once they have lost all foliage – it is easier to see what you are doing and removal of dormant buds (growing points) invigorates the remaining buds.
Remove any dead, whippy or crossing branches to give an open framework and not too many competing branches, as it won’t fruit properly. Remove any crossing and low branches and any old fruit. Apples and Pears are the best fruits to espalier on walls or fences, but I have also seen Plums and Nectarines fruit successfully as espaliers.
The bud on the end of branch won’t fruit, so cut back to a few buds. The branch that comes off the side of the larger branch is called a lateral. Leave these as they will produce spurs for next year’s fruit. The fruiting spurs (little knobbly bits) will develop apples this season. Always prune at an angle.
Pears – fruit on the spurs, (like apples) but also on the end of first year laterals, and so when pruning reduce the terminal and leave these branches to fruit next year.
They need to be trained in a vase shape. Use strong branches to form the frame. Remove any tall, thin branches. Plums fruit on spurs and first year laterals, so remove any old or dead wood – this will promote new growth.
They need to be trained in a vase shaped tree. They bear fruit on last year’s growth. They need fairly severe annual pruning to encourage vigorous new shoots for the next year’s fruit.
The MCLA maintenance team are really handy with the secateurs when it comes to fruit trees. They can also carry out the Winter pest control required.
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