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Steps for Pruning Fruit Trees
1. Clean up
To begin the pruning process on your fruit trees, check them over for the “Three D’s” of pruning:
- Dead wood
- Damaged wood
- Diseased wood
When you’ve successfully removed any limbs affected by the Three D’s, remove any other branches that are obviously out of place as well as any sprouts near the tree’s base.
Make sure that you remove any branches or sprouts growing on the first 24 inches or so of each tree’s trunk as well.
This step is known as the “clean up.”
2. Thin out
Step two, the “thin out,” is a process that involves removing branches that:
- grow out of alignment with the main branches
- take up too much space (more than 20 to 30 centimetres between branches is too much)
- grow downward rather than upward
Removing these odd-growing and troublesome branches allows more air and more light to penetrate the tree’s canopy. It also strengthens the tree’s immunity to disease and pests. In turn, the tree’s productivity is higher.
3. Head back
Once you’ve successfully cleaned up and thinned out your trees, it’s time to move on to the third and last step; the “head back.”
This step is similar to giving a hair cut in all honesty. You’re simply cutting the branches back by around 25 to 30 percent of the previous year’s growth.
Keep in mind that the head back step is crucial in regards to which direction your branches will grow next year. So, make sure to make your cuts approximately less than a centimetre above bud-sites facing the desired branching direction.
A Final Word About Pruning Fruit Trees
Pruning trees isn’t the rocket science your father-in-law and neighbor would like you to believe it is. Even if you’ve never cut a branch before, pruning fruit trees successfully isn’t difficult to learn.
Sharpen your shears for easier cutting, follow the steps from this article, and get to pruning.
If you have any questions, let us know in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to find your answer!
Suggest Reading: How to Make a Double-Dig Garden Bed
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