April 22, 2013

learning to prune fruit trees

Learning to prune our fruit trees has been interesting. While it is pretty intimidating at first, I now enjoy it. I imagine it is a bit like painting or maybe sculpting. Every cut matters but you're not quite sure how much it matters. Though unlike sculpting, you have to wait a year to get any feedback about whether your choice of cut was a good one. Add to that the fact that I'm still not sure which tree is which, and there was a lot of intimidation.

I checked out five pruning books from the library. After lots of reading, then lots of observation, then more reading, then starting slow, then more reading, I became more confident. Here's my most recent bold move–weighing three overly vertical branches down to become more horizontal:
2013.04_pruning and training

I wish I had nice before/after photos, but I don't.

  • For most trees, prune in late winter/early spring when dormant
  • Thinning cuts thin
  • Heading cuts promote vigorous regrowth
  • Wide crouch angles make strong branches
  • ~6–10 inches between branch joints
  • Angle heading cuts away from bud
  • Make heading cuts close but not too close to bud
  • Bud(s) below heading cut turn into branches
  • Most novices don't prune enough

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