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Pruning Fruit Trees 101

February through March is the perfect time to prune fruiting trees & plants. It's important you prune during these months. Don't know where to start? Don't worry - it is not as hard as you might think, and it's worth every minute. Following basic fruit tree pruning instructions will ensure your trees enjoy good health, disease management, and more delicious fruit. Pruning will also stimulate shoot growth, control tree size and shape, and improve the quality of fruit.

Beyond these basic tips, each tree or shrub has its unique pruning needs, so be sure to follow the specific fruit tree pruning instructions for different types of fruit trees. For example, apple trees require a different pruning system than plum trees. However, follow these basic fruit tree pruning instructions and you’ll get you off to a good start.

  1. Always use sharp shears or saws to ensure clean cuts. Use pruning shears on young trees and limbs less than 1/2 inch diameter, and lopping shears for your larger cuts. Use a pruning saw for mature fruit trees.
  2. Start by removing dead wood and broken branches. Cut out any wood that crosses or rubs against any other branches. This opens up the middle so the sun can reach all the fruit.
  3. Make cuts close to a bud, joint in the branch, or to the trunk and never leave a stub. Pruning cuts should be made just above a bud and at a backwards angle of about 30 degrees.
  4. Prune stems just above a pair of opposing strong shoots or buds. If shoots or buds are staggered, find a strong one and prune just above it.
  5. Prune more vertical branches and keep more horizontal branches.
  6. Remove any debris which can harbor pests and disease.

Pruning fruit trees is a skill that is can be easily learned. Just start now and come summer, you will enjoy the fruits of your labor! If you have any specific questions, please see any of our Trees & Shrubs Experts at our three year-round locations.

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