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  1. #9
    FB.'s Avatar
    FB.
    FB. is offline Early Fruiter
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    OK, if they were mine, I would make a three-year plan and carry out the pruning each winter, when the trees are dormant.
    If you remove more than a quarter of the tree each winter, it will fight back so hard that fruit production will be reduced, while it concentrates on trying to recover from the shock.

    Try to achieve each batch of pruning with the minimum number of cuts - spend a while looking at the tree beforehand to see how you can achieve the objective with just a few cuts. It is less shock to the tree and is less likely to cause it to re-grow in an unattractive way. It also means less "wounds" that diseases could enter.
    Do not use a hedge trimmer or similar cutter. It will just give the tree a haircut and will remove most of the productive parts (only the outer 1-2ft is productive, the rest is mostly structural wood).
    Use a saw and some proper pruning tools.

    If you have to remove sizeable side branches, leave a very short stump of about 1/4 inch (perhaps a little more for big branches), to allow the tree to heal more easily. If you cut a branch off completely level with where it originated, it damages the originating branch and is harder for the tree to heal, so may get diseased.

    First winter:
    1. Remove cankered wood, or wood that does not look healthy.
    2. Remove dead wood.
    3. Remove rubbing branches.

    Second winter:
    1. Remove any more diseased, dead or rubbing branches - as above.
    2. Remove upwards-growing shoots (a common response to pruning).
    3. Start to thin out excess branches - take about half of the excess and leave the rest for next year. Make as few cuts as reasonably possible.

    Third winter.
    As for second winter and complete the thinning of excess branches.

    After that, you should be able to get away with pruning only every few years, although annual tidying-up is always a good idea.


    It's a lot of work and the job may be too much for most people to do.

    FB

  2. #10
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    Theres a few good videos on youtube showing how and how not to prune old and new apple trees, they explain exactly why they do what they are doing.
    things like
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_jqgWXlUHM
    Last edited by starloc; 10-01-2009 at 06:08 PM.

  3. #11
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    Shaun the Sheep is offline Germinator
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    Default Pruning

    Thanks Starloc. I've been putting off pruning my apple trees because I didn't really know where to start. The videos are really clear so as soon as the temperature gets above 5 degrees, I'll be out there!

  4. #12
    ragged_diamond is offline Germinator
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    Hi Apple Betty
    I've been pruning apple trees since i was 8

    My mum and dad used to do it together (mum's professional) and has many rare fruit trees as well as a small orchard of 8 apple trees which were planted 5 years after the house was built... in 1940...
    So our trees are OLD and just as big as yours. This is how we do it, it is gentle enough for oldies but cuts enough away to ensure health and future growth (and fruit)

    Each branch will shoot out thin weedy shoots which can grow anywhere from 6" to 3ft in a year (longest one we got was taller than me, and i'm 5'2"!!).

    In July/August- Invest in a Long Handled Pole Pruner (30-40) and nip each shoot at about 2" (or where ever the first set of leaves comes). Each shoot should be cut with a pair of leaves remaining

    Do this all over. If you can't reach, get someone to climb!! I always think tree surgeons should be called via word of mouth (no offense) but i've seen some horrors over the years! AVOID cutting any of the bigger branches unless obviously dead

    Hope this helps!

  5. #13
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    Surely pruning the tips will reduce fruit growth, many apples are tip bearers? , i know that pruning the tips on citrus is a mistake most people make , on citrus it vastly reduces the crop size.

  6. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by starloc View Post
    Surely pruning the tips will reduce fruit growth, many apples are tip bearers? , i know that pruning the tips on citrus is a mistake most people make , on citrus it vastly reduces the crop size.
    Winter pruning of the tips will cut off the coming seasons flowers on the tip-bearing varieties, although many tip-bearers will have some spurs that wouldn't be cut off, so fruit set may still be enough if it's an older tree.

    Summer pruning of tips will not be a problem. The summer pruning causes some of the buds further back along the branch to form into fruit buds, while stopping all further growth for that season, as energy is channelled into fruit buds.
    Last August, I routinely cut back my Discovery, Worcester and Tydeman's (all part-tip-bearers) and the cutting back to 1-4 new buds has resulted in substantial extra fruit bud production.

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