Any serious fruit farmer understands the importance of pruning trees. Not only does it improve the appearance, but also the aeration and the yield. It is recommended to be done once a year, especially around winter. The following strategies will help you prune your trees the right way.
1. Clean up the tree.
Identify and remove any damaged or diseased wood. Also remove any sprouts at the trunk’s base. Remove water sprouts that grow on the branches.
If they are very high, use an agricultural ladder to reach them. Use appropriate loppers to remove them from the base of the branch without leaving little stubs.
2. Get rid of excess branches.
Also known as thinning out, this step’s main purpose is to allow light and air to get into the canopy hence boosting its yields. Remove branches that crisscross other branches, that grow toward the center of the tree or downwards. Ensure that the branches are evenly spaced with an attractive pattern.
Cut off branches that seem to grow from a single crotch at a narrow angle. Retain the healthiest branch. Thin the tree until there is an average of 14–30 centimetres of airspace around the branches.
3. Head back.
In this step, all you are doing is to prune the outermost growth of the tree. This makes the branches shorter and thicker as they grow. Heading back makes the tree more fruitful by activating the trees hormones lower in the canopy.
Cut off 20–30 percent of last year’s growth. It is very important where you make the cut. Prune the branch back to a quarter inch above a bud facing the direction you desire the branch to grow in the subsequent year.
Sharp shears are recommended for easy clean cuts. Clean the shears before moving to the next tree. This is done by dipping its blades in isopropyl alcohol solution for around 30 seconds. Clear the area around the tree by disposing of the pruned wood.
There you have it — your three-step guide for pruning both stone and pome fruit trees successively.