March 9, 2016

Time to Prune the Home Orchard

Even though it’s not March 21 yet……spring is upon us!  In our area, northern Illinois, our apple trees are beginning silver tip and it’s time to begin planning our spray protocol for coming spring season.  Our pruning began back in December and we are just finishing up. You may not have 16,000+ trees like we do here at , so many of you may not have pruned your trees yet, but now is the time to prune if you have not done so already!

When to Prune

For the home grower that has 2 or more fruit trees, the better time to prune in our region is probably mid to late March when the daytime temperatures are  a bit more bearable.  The earlier in winter you begin to prune, the more likely you may open the tree up for freezing in severe temperatures if those temperatures arrive too early in the winter.  So the best time to prune is late winter or early spring, before the buds open up for the new growing season. 

If you have just planted your tree(s) this past growing season, you may not even need to prune your trees at all through this first year.  You can then begin training your tree(s) this next May and June and do any minimal pruning at that time.

How to Prune
It is very important to know the difference between training your new apple trees and pruning them.  Training begins when the tree is planted and continues throughout the life of the tree. 
Training is primarily used for proper positioning of the main scaffolds of the tree.  A properly trained tree can save many hours of  very difficult corrective pruning later!
Pruning, on the other hand, is used to thin the branches of your tree to allow more light into the tree canopy (the area covered by vegetative growth).  When all the leaves of a tree are exposed to more light, the tree produces higher quality fruit.

For more on training and pruning your young fruit trees, download T. R. Roper’s article  .

Rather than post the various yearly stages of pruning trees, let me refer you to an excellent article on that will cover the first four years of pruning a young tree, whether it be apple trees or stone fruit such as peaches.
I hope you find these articles useful!  As always, if you have any questions contact me anytime via comments or through our !

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