[NAFEX] Can I lightly prune my apple trees now that they are leafing out?
garden at leereich.com
Fri Apr 18 19:52:20 EDT 2008
A few years ago, in researching information for my book, The Pruning
Book, I spoke with Dr. Dave Ferree of OSU about timing of pruning.
Quoting from my book...
As the growing season progresses, response to pruning changes,
because shoot growth of woody plants generally grinds to a halt well
before leaves fall in autumn. In fact, growth commonly ceases by
midsummer. So the later in the growing season that you prune, the
less inclined a woody plant is to regrow -- the year of pruning, at
Traditional theory holds that summer pruning is more dwarfing than
dormant pruning, but recent research puts this theory on shaky
footing. True, if you shorten a stem while it is dormant, in
February, for example, buds that remain will begin to grow into
shoots by March and April, whereas if you cut back a shoot in
midsummer, no regrowth might occur. Ah, but what about next spring?
That’s when the summer-pruned shoot, according to this recent
research, waits to respond. Plants have an amazing capacity to act
however they please no matter what we do to them.
What are the practical implications of all this? First of all, if you
want to stimulate bud growth, prune a stem when it is dormant. On the
other hand, summer is the time to remove a stem to let light in among
the branches (to color up ripening apples or peaches, for example),
or to remove a stem that is vigorous and in the wrong place. Upright
watersprouts, for example, are less likely to regrow if snapped off
before they become woody at their bases. Under certain conditions,
summer pruning can be more dwarfing than dormant pruning, because
regrowth following summer pruning can be again pruned. Under certain
conditions, summer pruning also can prompt the formation of flower
buds rather than new shoots -- just what you want in order to solidly
clothe the limbs of a pear espalier with fruits or the branches of a
wisteria vine with flowers.
The response to summer pruning depends on the condition of the plant
as well as the weather. A weak plant may be killed by summer pruning.
A late summer wet spell, especially if it follows weeks of dry
weather, might awaken buds that without pruning would have remained
dormant until the following spring. And these responses interact with
plant response to various degrees of pruning.
Lee Reich, PhD
Books by Lee Reich:
The Pruning Book
Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden
A Northeast Gardener's Year
On Apr 18, 2008, at 12:03 PM, Karen Tillou wrote:
> i would say yes to betsy and kelly - some light touch up pruning, a
> twig here, a small branch there, will never go amiss anytime, even
> sundays. after all my winter pruning is done, and i start mowing
> in the spring, i am always touching up as i go by on the mower -
> usually removing low growths and hangers that are trying to stab my
> eyes out as i drive by - and as the fruit starts to weigh down
> branches into awful configurations of droop and about-to-break.
> as for your main pruning, kelly, i'd steer clear of bud break and
> bloom and fruit set (spring) for a couple reasons: it is really
> easy to knock around the fragile buds and fruitlets when pruning,
> and it's also a period of strong root growth, which is adversely
> effected by above ground pruning at the same time. ditto about the
> root growth for fall pruning, sept through nov.
> the best times are when the tree is dormant for pruning to
> invigorate the tree, young trees, encouraging branching, etc.
> dormant (visually) means no leaves, and tight buds that aren't
> starting to swell. (though i am certainly guilty of pruning late
> winter as buds start to swell and break... we probably all are.)
> summer pruning is good for controlling the size of a vigorous tree,
> for encouraging the formation of fruiting wood. it's harder
> though, with all the leaves and fruit in the way, to see the
> structure of the tree and know what you want to remove. summer
> timing is maybe june-july, a little into august. it's certainly
> the best time to remove all those unwanted new water shoots and
> suckers off the trunk and top if nothing else.
> good luck, and enjoy it.
> oregon city, OR - zone 8a and wet
> On Apr 18, 2008, at 7:43 AM, kelly at theravenrocks.com wrote:
>> I have the same question, but would broaden it to: Is there any
>> time(s) when I should NOT prune apple trees? I've been told by an
>> elderly relative that Sundays is the only time when apple trees
>> should not be pruned. I'm in the North Carolina mountains.
>> Kelly Coffey
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Hilborn.E at epamail.epa.gov [mailto:Hilborn.E at epamail.epa.gov]
>> Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 10:12 AM
>> To: 'North American Fruit Explorers'
>> Subject: [NAFEX] Can I lightly prune my apple trees now that they
>> are leafing out?
>> I dutifully performed my dormant pruning however, some of the buds
>> I identified as flower buds were only large terminal leaf buds.
>> Now that they are leafing out/blooming I see where I made
>> mistakes. I am training these dwarf trees as oblique cordons, so I
>> hate to leave longish laterals if they are not producing fruit. Is
>> it OK to prune these laterals back 6-8 inches or so now? Thanks!
>> Betsy Hilborn 7a NC
>> _______________________________________________ nafex mailing list
>> nafex at lists.ibiblio.org Reproduction of list messages or archives
>> is not allowed. This includes distribution on other email lists or
>> reproduction on web sites. Permission to reproduce is NEVER
>> granted, so don't claim you have permission! **YOU MUST BE
>> SUBSCRIBED TO POST!** Posts from email addresses that are not
>> subscribed are discarded. No exceptions. ---- To subscribe or
>> unsubscribe, go to the bottom of this page (also can be used to
>> change other email options): http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/
>> listinfo/nafex File attachments are NOT stripped by this list.
>> TAKE STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM COMPUTER VIRUSES! Please do
>> not send binary files. Use plain text ONLY in emails! NAFEX web
>> site: http://www.nafex.org/
>> nafex mailing list
>> nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
>> Reproduction of list messages or archives is not allowed.
>> This includes distribution on other email lists or reproduction on
>> web sites.
>> Permission to reproduce is NEVER granted, so don't claim you have
>> **YOU MUST BE SUBSCRIBED TO POST!**
>> Posts from email addresses that are not subscribed are discarded.
>> No exceptions.
>> To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to the bottom of this page (also
>> can be used to change other email options):
>> File attachments are NOT stripped by this list.
>> TAKE STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM COMPUTER VIRUSES!
>> Please do not send binary files.
>> Use plain text ONLY in emails!
>> NAFEX web site: http://www.nafex.org/
> nafex mailing list
> nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
> Reproduction of list messages or archives is not allowed.
> This includes distribution on other email lists or reproduction on
> web sites.
> Permission to reproduce is NEVER granted, so don't claim you have
> **YOU MUST BE SUBSCRIBED TO POST!**
> Posts from email addresses that are not subscribed are discarded.
> No exceptions.
> To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to the bottom of this page (also
> can be used to change other email options):
> File attachments are NOT stripped by this list.
> TAKE STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM COMPUTER VIRUSES!
> Please do not send binary files.
> Use plain text ONLY in emails!
> NAFEX web site: http://www.nafex.org/
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the nafex