How to Prune a Fruit Tree

Опубликовал Admin
5-10-2016, 13:35
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Pruning stimulates tree growth, enhances fruit production, and gives a tree the proper wine glass shape. It is especially important to properly prune fruit trees so that they grow into robust fruit-producers. Learn when and how to prune your fruit trees with the guide below and start growing healthier, more productive trees.

Knowing When to Prune

  1. Prune fruit trees in the winter when the tree is dormant. Dormant means that the tree is not producing any leaves or fruit. This makes it easier to target the areas you want to prune and promotes the best production possible.
    • Summer pruning slows down the ripening process and has the potential to expose fruit to sunburn.
    • If you want to slow down the growth of a tree, however, you can prune it in early summer to stunt growth.
  2. Prune trees right after you plant them. Trim the main trunk down to between 24 and 30 inches high. Trim any side growths down to no longer than two buds.
  3. Trim young trees heavily for the first three years. Heavy pruning during the first few years means a lower fruit yield at first, but in the long run your fruit trees will be strong and productive.

Learning the Basic Technique

  1. Choose the right tool. Use sharp shears on young trees with branches that are 1/2 inch (1.27cm) in diameter or smaller. Use pruning saws for bigger, more mature trees.
  2. Know the different types of cuts. The type of cut you perform will determine the direction that new growth will emerge.
    • Use a heading cut to create a nicely shaped tree. Cut above an outward facing bud at a 30-degree angle to encourage the branch to grow up and out in a direction that will create a tree shaped like a red wine glass. If you cut above an inward-facing bud, the branch will grow incorrectly inward toward the tree, which you don't want to happen.
    • Make a thinning cut to (you guessed it!) thin out the tree branches and allow more sunlight to reach the limbs. Perform a thinning cut by clipping a branch as close to the collar of the tree as possible, taking care not to leave an exposed node.
    • Perform a bench cut to get rid of strong upright shoots. A bench cut is used to thin out the center of the tree and is a dramatic cut that should be used sparingly.
  3. Select which branches to keep and which to prune. You want to keep branches that are growing out of the trunk at about a 45-degree angle. Anything growing at a much smaller or larger angle should be pruned.
  4. Make the cut where you want new growth to occur at a 30-degree angle. The cut only affects a few inch radius of the tree, not the entire health of the tree.
  5. Always prune at a node or bud on the tree. The more buds you cut down, the more strongly the tree will grow back.

Maintaining Your Fruit Trees

  1. Head your fruit trees in early spring just after buds appear. To head a tree, cut off the middle trunk between 30 and 34 inches high. Permanent branches will grow between four and 12 inches below the heading cut.
  2. Develop a single leader. If several vertical branches are competing to be the leader, the branch that acts an as extension of the upright trunk, select a single leader and prune the others back to the collar of the trunk.
  3. Top a vertical branch to encourage growth and overall tree development. By trimming vertical branches, you will allow more sunlight to access the tree.
  4. Prune horizontal branches to remove excess fruit and revitalize branches. If you choose not to prune horizontal branches, they will bear a higher fruit yield.
  5. Prune diseased, discolored, or broken branches and suckers. Suckers are small branches that grow from the base of the tree. Young suckers can be gently broken off at the base. Branch-like suckers with woody stems should be cut with pruning shears. Remove any branches that look unhealthy or may be infected with a disease.
  6. Remove competing and downward-growing branches. Downward-growing branches generally do not produce a very high fruit yield. Remove any branches that are growing together or competing for space.
  7. Try to prune the top of the tree more heavily than the undergrowth. This allows more sunshine to reach the shaded branches, encouraging them to produce fruit. Horizontal branches also tend to produce much more fruit that vertical growing branches.


  • Prune your fruit tree when it is planted if it was not pruned where it was purchased.
  • If you live in Northern California, prune apricot trees in the summer.
  • Peach, nectarine and kiwi trees grow quickly. You will need to remove half of the previous year's growth. Apple, pear, cheery and plum trees have slower growth rates and only need about a fifth of the previous year's growth pruned away. Citrus trees do well as long as their bottom branches are pruned off the ground.


  • Make clean cuts and don't leave behind stubs.
  • Do not prune cherry trees.
  • Improper cutting techniques can lead to disease and pest infestations. Cuts that allow for standing water enhance the possibility of rot and mold growth.
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