When Is the Best Time To Prune Fruit Trees?

What is the best time to trim fruit trees? Is autumn or summer a good season to prune them? Here are the facts.

Whether you need a fruit tree to blossom faster or want to reduce its size, pruning plays a vital role in fruit tree maintenance. This is irrespective of what type of fruit tree it is you’re dealing with.

While pruning is important, knowing what time to carry out this activity is equally important. That is why this article will be discussing the best time to prune fruit trees.

Now, different situations will call for pruning a fruit tree. These range from removing diseased parts of trees, pruning due to poor quality fruits, as well as removing broken or overgrown or over-hanging branches among others.

Reasons For Pruning Fruit Trees

Having made a brief mention of the reasons for pruning fruit trees like peach, this section will provide more information on why pruning is necessary.

READ: Guide To Espaliering Fruit Trees

There are multiple reasons such as pruning to improve production, disease and pest removal, for shaping and also for improving its overall health.

  • Pruning To Improve Production

Branches are essential to the production of fruits on a tree. So, why should these be pruned? Not all branches are pruned but some branches are. This activity aims to simply reduce too many branches.

Having too many branches on a tree will mean fruits having to compete for space.

When this (fruits competing for space) happens, overall fruit quality is lower. The fruit size is also affected as it doesn’t attain full size. Ripening isn’t consistent too. However, the reverse is the case when fruit trees are pruned the right way and at the right time.

  • Disease And Pest Removal

Fruit trees too are infected and infested by diseases and pests.

These will need to be gotten rid of if such trees must bear quality fruits. Bacterial and fungi infections are most common with fruit trees.

Inspection and immediate pruning of affected areas must be done to prevent the disease and pests from spreading.

  • Shaping

Tree structures are vital to how well it bears fruits and holds.

Fruit tree pruning is best carried out when the tree is young to shape it into the perfect structure. You get to choose the best branches which will form a balanced tree shape.

Branches that are too close and aren’t evenly spread out are pruned.

  • Overall Health

This has to do with the general well-being of a tree. Having evenly spaced branches allows for more room to grow and bear fruits.

Also, more sunlight penetrates all parts of the fruit tree resulting in better productivity.

When To Prune Fruit Trees

Now, this is the central focus of our discussion, but getting here has required that we provide background information on other equally important aspects of fruit tree pruning.

So, when exactly is the best time to prune most trees? This and more have been discussed here.

  • Early Pruning

The best time for pruning a fruit tree begins when such a tree is young. The aim is to help such young trees produce thick stems which the tree later builds and expands on. When early pruning is mentioned, it simply refers to the time of planting such a tree.

However, pruning continues after this time in early Spring.

Why so? Early spring is a time when fruit trees are still dormant and buds are yet to break. During this time, cuts or pruned areas heal fast without leading to bacterial or fungal infections.

When a fruit tree is planted, the new stem should be pruned off about 25 to 30 inches from the ground level.

The side shoots too should be removed. What results, later on, is a well-balanced structure. It means when fruits are being formed, the structure is strong enough to bear up the weight.

There is a whole process of development as the tree matures and continues to spread out.

During the early years (2 to 3 years), not much fruiting should be expected. This is because it is gradually building on the structure and shape created during early pruning.

  • Pruning After The First Year

Having discussed the need for pruning a fruit tree during planting, the need for this action is also necessary after the first year. During the first three years of the fruit tree’s development, pruning is undertaken each year to help establish a strong trunk and balanced, evenly spread branches for further growth.

The improvement of scaffold strength is key. After the first year, pruning is best carried out during the Summer. That is after new growth has sprouted from previously pruned areas.

Here, artificial structures will need to be introduced to create the ideal shape and form.

So, the new branches resulting from previously cut stems should be removed except the central leader. Not all such branches are removed but those which are 4 inches below the central leader.

The remaining branches are spread out at 45 to 60 degrees from the central leader using artificial structures such as toothpicks and left for about 5 to 6 weeks.

The purpose of this is to help create adequate space for air and light to reach all parts of the tree. An additional advantage is that its strong branches are created in the process.

These can bear the weight of heavy fruits without giving way.

  • Pruning Fruit Trees After The Third Year

During the first three years, the major goal is to create a reliable structure.

Achieving that involves removing cross branches and ensuring that branches are evenly spread out. During this time, dormant pruning is necessary during early spring.

Carrying out the entire pruning process all through the years results in a well-built fruit tree. The only pruning necessary at this point will be to remove dead or weak branches.

If you can’t seem to figure out a way to prune your tree effectively, you may want to hire the services of an arborist. Such professionals know the best times to prune your fruit trees.

GUIDE: Best Time to Trim Hedges and Shrubs

Pruning fruit trees depends on your knowledge of what time is best as well as how to carry out the task. We have included useful information on how to carry that out.

However, the services of an arborist will be very useful if you find this hard to implement.

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