Winter Pruning Apple Trees
There is a basic difference in the
results of winter pruning and summer pruning of apple
trees. In autumn, the apple tree draws down its energy
supply from the smaller branches after leaf fall, and
stores it in the main trunk and root system. It is
important to appreciate the significance of this, for it
has implications for the re-growth of new branches,
growths in the spring if winter pruning of apple trees
Not too Much
If you cut out large portions of the tree
in the winter months, you will in effect not be
affecting the apple tree's potential for growth the
following year - the energy is stored away from your
pruning cuts, in the main trunk and larger branches.
Any pruning in the winter season, should
therefore be carried out as late as possible before bud
break in order to avert this vigorous flush of unwanted
growth. Most of these growths will be tall upright
shoot, sprouting out from main branches. These are known
as water shoots and have no use for fruiting, though one
or two of them can be retained for future training if
required. Hard pruning in the winter months will result
in much excess growth - taking away much of the energy
required for flower and fruit production.
Summer Pruning Apple trees
Summer pruning of apple trees normally
consists of removing water shoots or water sprouts -
much of which can be discontinued if note is taken about
excessive winter pruning of apple trees.
As distinct from winter pruning, summer
pruning of apple trees results in removing an energy
source. The branches are now food or energy producers
for the apple tree. Summer pruning should therefore be
kept to a minimum, in order to ensure a plentiful supply
of food for the tree and its prime purpose - producing
Summer pruning should start when the new
growths are a few inches long, and should be restricted
to removing all of the water shoots, and simple thinning
of the structure where absolutely necessary. Summer
pruning of apple trees should be done in early August
and be finished by end of
Apple trees are pruned in July,
there is a
the dormant fruit buds breaking into growth.
prospects for the following year are
has the effect of swelling the fruit and leaf buds without causing them
to break into growth.
Thinning Cuts. These are simple cuts to thin out
the tree as required by taking out a full shoot - right
back to another side shoot. They do not cause renewed
vigour normally and can be done winter or summer.
Heading back. This is normally just taking
out the end (terminal section of a shoot - small branch)
and induces new growths at the area of the cut. These
new shoots can then be trained into new frameworks
All pruning cuts should be 'finished' as
neatly as possible to allow for quick healing. Make your
pruning cut as near to the old branch as possible - not
leaving any stubs. There is no need to apply a pruning
compound or paint to apple trees. They do not prevent
the incidence of disease and do not assist in the
healing of the cut.
Pruning Apple trees has a twofold effect.
It will retain the apple tree in a
manageable size and shape.
If carried out as above, will
increase fruit yields.
Remember, that horizontal or near
horizontal branches or shoots produce the most fruit.
Branches can be arched over in a pleasing
effect, simply by gradually anchoring new branches to the ground, or
simply tying bricks or other weights to the ends of new shoot. The
latter makes for a good conversation topic!
Pruning apple trees is simple. Just
remember and put into effect the advice given above.