Prevent your apple trees from growing unshapely and severely weakened by an overcrowded crop. Knowing how winter pruning can benefit your apple tree will help you keep it growing healthy for generations.
toddsmariettatreeservices.com gathered the following information about winter pruning for your apple trees, some crucial tips about apple tree pruning, and the outcome this pruning may have on your apple tree.
How To Prune Your Apple Tree
Any time you set out to prune any tree, there are some guidelines to follow that help you protect the tree’s health while encouraging its shapely and vigorous growth.
Sterilize Pruning Equipment – Every time you bring out the loppers, pruning shears, hand saws, and anything else that will make contact with your tree should be sterilized with a 1:10 solution of bleach and water. If you are pruning between multiple trees, your equipment should be cleaned and sterilized between each tree.
Tip: When pruning multiple trees, fill a spray bottle with the bleach and water mixture and sterilize your equipment as needed.
Always Prune with a Plan – Before you start pruning, ask yourself if you need to prune and if you can prune at a more appropriate time.
Tip: When a tree (of any species) has been neglected and not pruned for multiple growing seasons, do not remove more than 1/3 of the tree. Spread the pruning out over several growing seasons to get it fully pruned back and into good shape. If more than 1/3 of the tree must be removed, hire a professional tree service to supervise or conduct this pruning activity.
Pruning Cuts – Using sharp, sanitized tools, you’ll want to make the cleanest cuts possible. Here are how some of these cuts are made:
Removing a full branch will require you to make a calculated “three-cut” removal.
Cut 1, known as the undercut,
it happens approximately 6 inches from the trunk from the bottom up, severing 1/3 of the branch. This cut prevents the bark from stripping if the branch falls before finishing the removal.
Cut 2, is a top, down cut approximately 6 to 8 inches further out from the undercut and removes the bulk of the branch.
Cut 3, is a top, down cut flush with the branch collar, taking care to avoid damaging the branch collar.
When tipping a branch or cutting away a diseased portion but not the entire branch, find an outward-facing bud before making your pruning cut. Cut at a 45-degree angle about 1/4 inch away from the bud. New growth will emerge from the bud in the next growing season.
Why Prune in Winter?
There are several reasons one may prefer to prune apple trees in the winter. Here are some of those reasons:
You can see a tree’s defects and poor growth
Cutting/Pruning is safer since most diseases and insects are dormant as well
Remove crossing/rubbing branches which can become vectors for insect infestations and disease, or both
Competing branches are more easily detected and removed
Tip: If your apple tree is lacking the lower branches that are good on an apple tree, you can entice them to grow out. Find a bud, and use a knife to make nicks about a millimeter above and below the bud. Then cut the notch between the nicks completely out, cutting through the bark and the green layer beneath it. This will force the tree to grow a new branch at that location.
Note: Your fruit trees should be pruned every year, during the dormant or winter period. If you don’t begin proper pruning early in the tree’s life, the result will likely be “alternate bearing,” or that one year’s harvest will be bountiful while the following year’s will be small. Pruning is necessary to open up the tree canopy to sunlight and air circulation and promote fruit production and a healthy plant. Follow these tips to pruning your apple tree so you can reap a bountiful harvest consistently.
Pruning or Thinning Fruit
During growing seasons with exceptional weather conditions, apple trees may produce a bumper crop or overabundance of fruit. This may cause fruit “crowding” on the branches and result in smaller-sized apples.
You can grow uncrowded, tasty, and normal-sized apples. It may be necessary to thin out the fruit. Fruit should be spaced about 6 inches apart along the branches; thin out closely grown apples remove the smaller-sized ones in favor of the larger fruits.
Winter Apple Tree Pruning
In this article, you discovered helpful information about pruning your apple trees during the winter season and how these pruning activities can influence your apple tree’s growth and fruit production.
Pruning and caring for your apple trees from an early age will create a consistently repeating annual harvest, help keep your trees healthy, and reduce your tree’s susceptibility to insect infestation.
Without proper winter pruning activities, your apple trees could wind up riddled with insects, diseased, and dying.