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  • Renae Moran: Hello. My name is Renae Moran and I'm the tree fruit specialist at the University

  • of Maine. We're here at the Agricultural Experiment Station in Monmouth. We call it the Highmoor

  • Farm.

  • Today we're going to have a demonstration on pruning apple trees. It is the dormant

  • season, the best time of the year to do the majority of pruning for our fruit trees. You

  • want to prune your fruit trees between January and before growth starts in spring. We're

  • in the month of April right now, which is an ideal time for pruning because a lot of

  • the snow has gone, but growth has not yet started.

  • Before pruning, it's important to know why you are pruning your fruit trees. There are

  • several reasons for pruning fruit trees that are part of a hobby orchard.

  • Today we're going to prune this fruit tree to improve fruit production. But some people

  • have apple trees that are a part of a landscape. In that case, you would prune fruit trees

  • for aesthetic reasons, because of the shape of the tree and because of the flowers of

  • the tree.

  • But this tree, we'll prune for improved fruit production. To do that, we're going to prune

  • it so that it gets the most amount of sunlight throughout the tree canopy.

  • The tree behind me has already been pruned. When we pruned this tree, the first thing

  • we did was to select which limbs to keep, and then to prune the rest of the tree so

  • that each limb gets the most amount of sunlight as possible, without over-pruning the tree.

  • This tree has a typical shape for a semi-dwarf apple tree. It's a cone-shaped tree, where

  • the lower limbs are the longest limbs on the tree and the upper limbs are shorter than

  • the tree. There's only one main trunk or leader to the tree.

  • This type of training gets the most amount of sunlight throughout the entire tree canopy.

  • You'll notice that the lower limbs don't have other limbs growing right on top of them.

  • Those were pruned out or were not allowed to grow, and the upper limbs have been shortened

  • so that they're not growing down and into the lower limbs.

  • The tree is pruned back in the top to be a certain height. The height would be a personal

  • preference, usually based on how tall your ladder is or how high you're willing to reach

  • into the tree.

  • You'll also notice that the limbs have been pruned so that things growing underneath or

  • growing in a downward fashion have been pruned off, and shoots that are growing straight

  • up are no longer in this tree. This vertical or hooked-downward growing orientation cuts

  • out a lot of sunlight, and these types of branches don't produce the best fruit. So

  • they get pruned out.

  • Then at some point, you have to know when to stop pruning to prevent yourself from over-pruning

  • the tree. You don't want to prune out any more than one-third of the total tree canopy.

  • Otherwise, you could end up overly invigorating the remaining growth on the tree so that the

  • tree produces too many water sprouts the following season.

  • Woman: There are two basic types of pruning cuts, heading cuts, and thinning cuts. To

  • make a thinning cut you would remove the shoot or limb at its base where it joins the previous

  • growth like this.

  • When you're making a thinning cut it's best to prune back as much of it as possible into

  • the crown or the circles surrounding the base of that shoot, this prevents the regrowth

  • of water sprouts. The smaller the stump you leave, the fewer water sprouts you should

  • have next year. Pruning back into the crown or the collar of the branch helps the pruning

  • cut to heal.

  • The other type of pruning cut is a heading cut and in this case you're pruning into the

  • growth, leaving behind the part of that shoot. This would be a one-year-old shoot. A heading

  • cut into that would be like that. When you remove the tip of that shoot it releases these

  • buds from growth inhibition and you get a bushy type of regrowth the following season.

  • We rarely make this type of pruning cut when we're pruning fruit trees. So in this case

  • I'm going to head it back into the two-year-old section like that. But a more severe type

  • of heading cut would be to be pruning into this section of the limb. We already have

  • branches that have developed. By making a heading cut into this part of the branch we're

  • not likely to stimulate the growth of new shoots. So we don't get a profusion to follow.

  • This type of pruning cut is very useful for making the branches shorter where you have

  • trees growing into each other. A heading cut into the older sections of the branch will

  • make it shorter and it's also useful in the top part of the tree to bring the height down.

  • It's also important to pay attention to how many flower buds are on the apple tree when

  • you're pruning it to prevent yourself from pruning out too many. Flower buds on an apple

  • tree have a characteristic shape that is very different from leaf buds. Flower buds are

  • found at the tips of short shoots and spurs. Spurs are just shoots that grew a few inches

  • or less in one season.

  • Flower buds are fat in contrast to leaf buds which are much smaller and shorter or more

  • pointed. Laterally along the shoots and spurs apples normally form leaf buds, in rare instances

  • they'll form flower buds. So pay attention to how many flower buds the tree has. If it

  • has a lot of flower buds in this year it's OK to prune off a number of these shoots that

  • have flower buds.

  • We've reached a point where the tree is nearly finished pruning especially on this side.

  • There's still a lot of shoots on that side that can be pruned out. If you like to have

  • a lot of flowers on your fruit trees then this would be a great place to stop pruning

  • it. But if you're pruning it to get the best colored, largest fruit this tree could still

  • use more pruning.

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B2 tree fruit prune flower cut heading

Pruning Apple Trees

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    Furong Lai posted on 2012/12/14
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