We’ve been getting a lot of calls lately about pruning fruit trees and when to start. We wrote a blog couple of months ago about the dangers of pruning in the fall and winter. Trees are starting to go dormant and when you prune them you encourage growth and you don’t want growth during the winter months as it could really damage the tree and maybe even kill it. You can prune in the winter and the summer but there are different stipulations to both.
For the winter you want to prune just before spring arrives. This is when your tree prepares for new growth. The tree is still dormant, but this will encourage new growth.
For the summer, you’ll want to prune after new growth has emerged, which helps suppress the development of distinct branches and shapes the tree. If you’re pruning during the flowering stage, it needs to be timed according to whether the flowers are on new growth or existing growth.
For fruit trees, prune when the tree is dormant, meaning there are no leaves on the tree. It’s easier to see what you are doing and removal of dormant beds at growing points can invigorate the remaining buds and encourage new, proper growth.
For those planting new fruit trees the spring, you want to cut off most of the extending branches to encourage low branching and equalize the top and root system.
It also depends on what type of fruit tree you are talking about. Peaches, nectarines, grapes, and Kiwis or Kiwi berries, grow on last year’s growth so you want to remove at least 50% of last year’s growth. For fake, olive, walnut, chestnut, pecan, almond, cherry, apple, pear, plum, and apricots, you want to remove about 20% of last year’s growth. We don’t have a lot of citrus around here but if you do have a citrus tree, you want to keep the skirts pruned up off of the ground so that the fruit does not drag.
When pruning, you’ll want to make clean cuts within 1/4″ of a bad and don’t leave any stubs.
Can you prune in the middle of summer?
Let’s say your apple tree is going like it gangbusters and it’s just too large to harvest. Then you might opt for summer pruning. You can reduce its size by cutting off some of the branches without encouraging vigorous growth but no more than 25% of the tree at this time.
Timing the pruning is important. For the Pacific Northwest, I would wait another month to month and a half before I start pruning my fruit trees. I will prepare them for spring and invigorate new growth, all the while carefully selecting branches that will carry the best fruit.
Do you need help pruning? That’s what we do! Give us a call today for an estimate on pruning fruit trees or any other trees on your property.
Call us for tree pruning or service in Woodinville and surrounding areas.