[NAFEX] Can I lightly prune my apple trees now that theyare leafing out?

dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com dmnorton at royaloakfarmorchard.com
Sat Apr 19 01:04:56 EDT 2008


Kelly,

I will give you a more technical answer to your question by supporting what Karen has indicated and also saying that all pruning is dwarfing, but summer pruning reduces growth much more than equivalent pruning during the dormant period. The removal of active leaf surface during the growing season reduces the late-season accumulation of assimilates in the woody tissues. This lower level of reserves is reflected in reduced vigor the following season. Properly used, summer pruning can be an effective supplement to other cultural practices in controlling vigor. Summer pruning can also significantly improve fruit color in trees that are too vegetative.  Obviously, trees in low vigor should not be summer pruned. This approach is reserved for trees in good to high vigor and, even here, should be practiced in moderation. The objective should be the removal of undesirable, excessively vigorous, upright growth, with the emphasis on the tops of the trees where most of this type of growth occurs. Pruning should be limited to removal of the current season's growth only.  Regular removal of 2 and 3-year-old wood will quickly result in a substantial reduction in bearing surface. Pruning in early summer may stimulate undesirable vegetative regrowth and significantly reduce flowering for the succeeding crop. The recommended time for summer pruning is August or after terminal buds have set. This is the most effective time for vigor control, and it is late enough to avoid regrowth and reduced flowering and avoid spreading fire blight if it has been present on new shoots.  At the same time, summer pruning in August is early enough to provide a good fruit color response to the removal of heavily shading, vigorous "weed growth" from the tops of the trees.

Hope this helps!

Dennis Norton
Royal Oak Farm Orchard
http://www.royaloakfarmorchard.com
http://www.theorchardkeeper.blogspot.com
http://www.revivalhymn.com
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Karen Tillou 
  To: North American Fruit Explorers 
  Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 11:03 AM
  Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Can I lightly prune my apple trees now that theyare leafing out?


  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.
  karen


  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/ 
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