Should I Be Pruning My Fruit Trees Right Now?
Although we don’t associate the first months of the year as gardening months, January and February are actually the perfect time for pruning. Winter is great for pruning, because trees are dormant, allowing for a better line of sight. When pruned correctly, the limb structure of the tree will be greatly strengthened, which is why pruning is so critical to a tree’s health. It’s best to make your cuts in weather that is free of rain or extreme cold because these types of conditions will be detrimental to your newly pruned trees.
How Do I Prune My California Fruit Trees?
The first thing you’ll want to keep in mind is to always prune with tools that have been freshly sharpened. Sharp tools allow for cleaner, easier pruning. Here are 3 things to consider as you prune your fruit tree.
- Mind the stubs: Make sure that you are focusing on the outside buds and branches, which will prevent branches from growing in towards the tree. Snip any branches that have already started growing inward, as well as the branches that or disease, damaged or crossing each other.
- Let the sun in: Allowing sunlight to flow through the canopy will encourage fruit growth and enhance the quality of the fruit. Make sure that circulation and sunlight can reach the fruit by pruning so that there is reasonable space around them.
- Size matters: Keeping the height of a fruit tree manageable is essential to the tree’s success. Choose a maximum height and prune to keep the tree from growing so large that you can’t care for it. If you’re not sure how tall you want it, a good starting point is 8 feet. Just remember to leave plenty of foliage intact as you’re pruning, so that the newly pruned tree does not fall victim to sunburn.
Tigers Tips |Tree Pruning:
Here are some additional tips to guarantee successful pruning:
- Trees that have been newly planted should be cut back to 24 to 30 inches high and pruned generously for the first three years. People tend to let the young plants grow out in order to net MORE fruit, but failing to prune new trees actually results in the opposite.
- Prune so that there is a mixture of upright branches and horizontal branches. This will encourage short term fruiting as well as continued growth in the future. The majority of the pruning should be done at the top of the tree to allow maximum sun distribution.
- Cut off unnecessary parts of the tree such as sprouts, branches that are hanging too low and suckers. These elements will just sap energy that you need to be re-distributed throughout the beneficial parts of the tree.
- There are different ways to train a tree, depending on the size of the tree. Open center pruning is great for large trees and focuses on heading limbs around the trunk. Central leader pruning is ideal for smaller trees and focuses on heading lateral branches in an angle that encourages sunlight distribution. The Y system also works great for small trees and involves spacing multiple trees apart and maintaining branches in a Y shape.
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