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Fruit tree pruning


  • Trees may be left until after they are set out before pruning except that they may sometimes, with advantage, be pruned at the nursery to save freight
  • Severe pruning is often needed for young trees, since much depends upon the proper forming of the head of the tree at this time
  • No pruning point is more important than that of deciding at what height the trees shall branch out. This will depend very much on location
  • Where the climate is comparatively cool, trees with long trunks are in favor as tending to facilitate cultmation. In the warmer regions the best results have come from allowing the branches to start within 2 feet or even closer to the ground and thus the trunk is protected against sunscald
In orchard practice trees are pruned:
  • To remove all dead or decaying branches or branches which rub against each other
  • To shorten the annual growth for the purpose of making the tree more compact, better able to carry a load of fruit without breaking, more easy to cultivate, spray, and harvest the fruit
  • As a means of thinning fruit to secure increased size and quality
  • To rejuvenate old or weak trees
  • To control certain diseases, like pear blight

  • To make the trees more shapely or to train them into some special form
Trees are sometimes root-pruned to check a too rank, vigorous wood growth, and thus throw them into bearing. Ringing a branch or trunk has a like effect. It is most frequently practiced with grapes to secure a larger earlier fruit.

Some of the more essential points to be remembered in pruning are:
  • To cut all large branches close to the trunk from which they spring and parallel with it. Where only the annual growth is removed the cut should be immediately above a bud
  • To prevent decay the cut should be made smooth and painted with some such material as grafting wax, etc.
  • To prevent splitting litting of the trunk the branches should be trained out at different heights around the trunk and acute crotches avoided
  • Severe top pruning has a stimulating effect, resulting in a vigorous growth of new shoots and is most useful in rejuvenating an old orchard
  • Severely winter-injured trees should be only mildly pruned. If the fruit buds only are killed the runing may be more severe
  • Wounds heal over best if the pruning is done during the growing season, but for convenience sake and also to prevent bleeding in the case of grapes, it is generally done in early spring before the growth starts in the tree
Pinching or disbudding is a modified form of prunin and relates to the removal of buds. By removing the terminal tud of a branch the development of lateral buds and shoots is encouraged. Pinching is most commonly practiced with raspberries.