The right way to prune an apple tree

Discussion in 'Whitetail Deer Habitat' started by Maple_Ridge, Feb 8, 2020.

  1. Maple_Ridge

    Maple_Ridge

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    Guys, I am sure that this is within the habitat forum already, but do you have the best website or link to the proper way to prune an apple tree?

    I have some trees that are 5 years old.

    I also have some that are 30+ (guessing)

    Below is a picture of a Golden delicious. You can see it has been pruned before, anything going vertical off the main trunks got lopped off. What is the right way? This tree also has some dyeing main limbs and needs attention every year.

    My 5 year old red delicious I have done nothing with on pruning. Seems like I don't know where to start, and am leary about trimming the wrong branches. Almost like I need to visit an orchard or have someone show me the right way.

    Thank you for the help!

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  2. ReallyBigFish

    ReallyBigFish

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    Interested to see some responses. I have three apple and a pear tree at the house we bought in October. They are due to be trimmed.
     

  3. Gamekeeper

    Gamekeeper

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    Get rid of the waterspouts.
    Look at some drawings of Apple tree scaffolding.
    Do that.
     
  4. Wild Thing

    Wild Thing

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    The easiest and best way to train an apple tree is to start the very day the tree is planted. There, of course are different preferences and strategies, but I prefer the Central Leader system and begin training my trees early on, to what I want them to look like when they are mature. That is - a strong central "leader" stem with only a few (4 or maybe 5) strong lateral (scaffold) branches - believe me - plenty more will develop on their own with time.

    Of course, you can't remove them all at once or you may kill the tree. Try not to remove more than 20% to maybe 25% at the most, at any one time.

    I also want my lowest branches to be at least 4 - 5 feet above ground level, so I start removing the lowest branches the day I plant the tree. Within a year or two there won't be any branches lower than that.

    Many times a new tree will come with 2 or 3 main leaders which are generally around the same size. I just pick the one I want to be the leader and remove the others - again - one of them will come off the day I plant the tree and the other will come off within the next year.

    You want your main scaffold branches to be strong enough to support heavy loads of fruit without breaking. This means you should train them to an angle of 45-60 degrees. Spreaders cut from lathe make this a simple process. Spread those scaffolds the day you plant the tree and they spreaders can generally be removed after the first growing season.

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    I planted these trees in 2017 - By 2019 they are pretty much exactly like I want them to be.

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    Strong central leader with only a few strong scaffolds at the proper crotch angle.

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    Prune in winter by removing any branches which are pointing straight up or straight down and any that are crossing another branch. You want good air flow and sunlight within the interior of the tree. This tree needs a little pruning but by starting out early on, it is a much less daunting task.

    IMG_4433.jpg

    The rewards....

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    I don't have time right now but will likely add more this coming week.
     
  5. Wild Thing

    Wild Thing

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  6. Wild Thing

    Wild Thing

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    Yes, that is a good synopsis also bombcast. It covered one point I was going to make about "turning" or "changing the direction" of growth on a branch by pruning back to a bud pointed in the direction you want the branch to grow.

    One word of caution in this article is that the author mentioned that "it is almost impossible to kill an apple tree by over pruning it". I had a guy from NRCS tell me the same thing some 25 years ago....but I proved him wrong. I did kill a couple trees by over pruning. If you stick to the 20% rule you will be fine.

    However...I also do a little pruning on newly planted trees in early to mid-August without issue. Trees are actively growing then and they seem to heal quickly before going dormant for the season. The point being here is that you can actually prune more than 20% in the same year if you do most of it during dormancy and just a little more in late summer.

    You can probably tell that I am big on training or shaping my apple trees as soon as possible. I don't want energy and nutrients feeding any branches that I know I don't want to keep so I want to remove them as quickly as possible so that the rest of my tree grows fast and starts producing as soon as possible.

    If you have planted enough apple trees over the years, you have probably neglected at least some of them to the point that they became "over grown". I have too. I learned from those that it is a lot easier to just train them to grow the right way and then keep them pruned up at least every other year so that it never becomes a real difficult task to get them healthy again.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
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  7. Maple_Ridge

    Maple_Ridge

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    Thanks guys! Now i just need to find the time to tune up the trees in my yard!
     
  8. NonTypicalCPA

    NonTypicalCPA

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    Best way? Find a local apple grower and hire his trimmer to come trim. When they show up with a small chainsaw, don't get alarmed. The tree will look decimated after he's done, but will respond the next year with amazing vigor!