View Full Version : pruning an apple tree ?
08-22-2006, 08:59 PM
I have two apple trees that are about 6 years old and have never been pruned/trained . They have never blossomed and I am thinking they need to be pruned to get them started. They both have more than one leader and the branches are tight in some areas. The only thing I know about pruning is a little I have read on line.
1.) Can I prune them now ? At least get them down to a single leader
2.) How about getting the scaffolds organized by trimming out excess limbs .
3.) Does it help to trim back some new growth on the ends ?
Thanks for any help you might give me ...Rick
08-23-2006, 02:39 AM
i am no expert at this but the best time to prune a tree is when it is dormant which is in december. or late november.
08-23-2006, 04:41 AM
Don't remove more than a third of the branches per year and start out by pruning suckers and cross limbs. Next year open the canopy up some and you should be OK. I prune in mid Fedruary.
08-23-2006, 06:49 AM
Like chemistbert said. Do it in a couple
of years. And late Feb or very early March
is when I do pruning and scion collection.
08-23-2006, 08:02 AM
I believe in your area the best time to prune an apple (or most any) tree would be December through March. As Randy said when the tree is dormant. Don't do it now as the tree will not have enough time to heal before winter arrives which would expose the cut ends to unnecessary damage.
Removing excess acafflod branches is a good idea. Try to remove branches that are directly above or below a branch in the same position on the next level. In other words, if you have a strong branch at 3:00 on level 2, you should remove any branch at 3:00 on levels 1 and 3. This provides for sunlight to get to all the branches around the tree horizontally and vertically.
If you trim off the end of a branch (the terminal bud) it will induce the closest two or three buds to grow more profusely thus creating thicker foliage toward the end of the branch. This isn't normally a good thing for a fruit tree since it most likely will develop too many fruit near the end of the branch and create undue physical stress on the branch.
08-24-2006, 03:13 PM
Thanks Guys I will wait till the tree is dormat and then spread out the train over a couple of years. Hope that helps it as of yet neither one of them have ever had blooms ... Rick
08-24-2006, 05:10 PM
How do you do apple trees that haven't been pruned in oh......25-30 years?
08-24-2006, 05:32 PM
I would be suspicious of trees that have never bloomed.
08-24-2006, 07:31 PM
What rootstock are they on? If on a standard or near standard rootstock, not blooming yet wouldn't be that unusual, especially if unpruned. Vertical growth (e.g. "watersprouts") will tend not to bloom - horizontal will be more inclined to bloom.
Do some reading on pruning - there's lots available on the web. Be careful pruning now - Summer pruning has more of a dwarfing effect on the tree - dormant pruning (late winter) is more structural and has much less of a dwarfing effect. Take your time and prune them back into shape over multiple seasons. Make some spreaders and see if you can open up the crotch angles and get the branches more horizontal.
08-26-2006, 08:51 PM
As for my trees I couldnt tell ya what rootstock they are on as we bought them from a farm store. They were supposed to be dwarfs but both are close to 12` tall . Does that sound like dwarfs ? I will wait till they are dormant to trim out the extra leaders and work on a few of the scafflods. Rick
08-27-2006, 06:27 AM
If you want to learn more than you wanted to really know, go to this site.
Hubby and I teach an apple pruning class every spring. Usually in an old orchard that needs refurbishing. The website referenced above is good. Some easy rules for old trees...
Only take 1/4 off per year.
Start with dead, damaged, and crossing branches
Take off watersprouts next (the branches that go straight up)
Open the crown next (let in sun and air)
In 4 years you will have renewed your trees and will hopefully have healthy and fruitful ones.
Hope this helps!
08-31-2006, 06:17 AM
Here's an aerial shot of abandoned orchards. They were once very productive, but apparently the market turned and the varietes were no longer in demand. There are thousands of apple, peach, cherry, and pear trees in the squares you see in the center of the photo. If it sounds like a government project, that's only because it is.
08-31-2006, 12:55 PM
Thanks. Been gonna do this for four or five years. We get lots of apples off these trees, but they are very small. So proably in feb I shoud sharpen up the chainsaw, huh? Thanks.
09-02-2006, 09:17 AM
Hillside ...Thanks for the link. I have added it to my favorites and will study it in more detail as time allows. It looks to be excellent reading ! ...Rick
09-02-2006, 04:40 PM
I visited the apple man to get our apples on Friday, and he showed me a hollow apple tree. It is very old and was left by his father. He's topped it with a chainsaw, sapsuckers have drilled every millimeter, and it is missing its center and 1/3 of the side of the trunk. But it produces apples like mad! Good luck on your pruning and may your tree be so tough as this one.