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Master the art of pruning fruit trees: your guide to a beautiful and productive orchard
Fruit trees are a beautiful addition to any garden, providing aesthetic appeal and delicious produce. However, fruit trees require proper care and maintenance to thrive like ornamental trees. Pruning is an essential aspect of fruit tree care that promotes fruit production and prevents diseases if done correctly. We have compiled a guide to help you prune your trees like a pro.
Step 1: Removing The Dead, Damaged, And Diseases Wood
- The first step in tree pruning is removing dead, damaged, or diseased wood, commonly known as the three D’s. Deadwood is easy to spot as it is dry, brittle, and lacks leaves or buds. Damaged wood may have broken or split branches, while diseased wood may show signs of discoloration, fungus growth, or cankers. Removing the three D’s will improve the tree’s appearance and prevent the spread of diseases and pests.
In addition to the three D’s, you should also look for sprouts growing from the base of the trunk, which are called suckers. Remove suckers as close to the trunk as possible to prevent regrowth. Also, look for water sprouts and erect, perfectly vertical branches that grow from the tree’s main branches. Water sprouts may look healthy but divert the tree’s energy from producing fruit and should be removed. Finally, when making clean-up cuts, it’s essential to prune the branches back to the larger limb they’re growing from rather than leaving little stubs, which can lead to disease and insect infestation.
Step 2: Thinning Out The Tree
- After the clean-up cuts, the next step in pruning your fruit tree is thinning the interior. This involves removing limbs growing towards the tree’s interior or growing downward. These types of branches tend to shade the tree’s interior, limiting air circulation and sunlight, which can lead to disease and reduced fruit production. Additionally, remove limbs that have an angle greater than 45 degrees to the limb they are attached to. Limbs with steep angles are more prone to limb failure under the weight of fruit, especially in windy conditions.
A good rule of thumb is to look at the branch attachment point and imagine a clock face. Anything between 10 and 2 is an ideal angle for a limb to be attached to the trunk. When making cuts to thin out the tree’s interior, it’s essential to avoid removing too much foliage at once. Removing too many branches can affect a tree’s growth and fruit production in the future. A good approach is to remove no more than a third of the interior growth each year, gradually thinning out the tree over time.
Step 3: Reducing The Height Of The Tree Canopy
- The final step involves reducing the height of the tree’s canopy. It’s important to remember that fruit trees are not shade trees, and a tall and wide canopy is undesirable. A lower canopy height allows for easier and safer harvesting of the fruit. If your tree is mature and requires a ladder for pruning, be sure to take extra caution to avoid falls and injuries.
To reduce the height of the crown, you should head off 20-35% of last year’s growth, pruning back to an established limb or a bud that faces the direction you want a new limb to develop. This will encourage new growth and the development of strong and productive limbs.
If you are looking for the best pruning and tree removal services for your trees, contact American Tree Experts Inc today. We are a group of tree experts working in Montclair, New Jersey. Call us today at 973-744-6091, and we will give you a fantastic quote for free.