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How to prune your fruit trees

Pruning

Apple trees are best pruned every winter to ensure a good cycle of fruiting wood. Trees that are not pruned become less productive and congested with old branches.

Pruning should be carried out when the tree is dormant, between leaf fall and bud burst (usually between November and early March).

To start

Always use sharp secateurs, loppers and a pruning saw; blunt tools leads to strains and tatty pruning cuts. Start by removing crossing, rubbing, weak, dead, diseased, damaged and dying branches

For pruning saws and knives, click here:

Pruning Knives & Saws

Our tripod ladder is also ideal for pruning, click here to view:

Orchard Ladders

Reduce tree size

If the branches have grown too long for you to reach, reduce them a little to help you prune next time.

Reduce density in centre

Cut out any vigorous shoots that are growing into the plant’s centre so air and light can reach all the branches.

Remove touching branches

If shoots are very close together, or cross or rub against each other, thin them out by cutting one back to the main branch.

Cut out dead/damaged branches

Remove damaged, dead or diseased branches. This shoot with a canker needs to be cut back to the main branch.

Thin fruiting spurs

On old trees, thin out some of the fruiting spurs to create room for fewer but better quality fruits next year.

When pruning your apple trees in the winter you may notice signs of apple canker on the stems. Lichens and other growths are also noticeable in winter; these are not damaging to the tree but can indicate low vigour.

Trees can suffer cold damage in winter and spring, which may affect fruit production.

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