[NAFEX] Dormant vs. summer pruning

Phil Norris cousinphil at acadia.net
Tue Apr 1 18:10:13 EST 2003


Robert,

Tanis's advice is good.  Dormant pruning to promote vigor and summer 
pruning to reduce vigor.  The way I like to think of it is the tree, 
during the winter, has all its reserves stored underground in the 
roots.  When the weather warms up all that stored energy flows up into 
the tree and pushes out wherever it can.  If you wait until summer to 
prune the tree has spent much of its energy on new growth and if you 
subsequently prune off a lot of foliage the tree will build up fewer 
reserves for next year's growth.

As far as taking out 3/4 of the tree......that sounds pretty radical.  
Generally you're not supposed to remove more than one third of the 
foliage in any one year.  The tree can go into shock and look pretty 
piqued for a year or two. But if the tree is healthy and vigorous you 
might get away with it.  I have done some really drastic pruning of 
major limbs on old apple trees and had them come through just fine.  
Try it and let us know.   Good luck.

Phil Norris
Blue Hill, Maine

On Tuesday, April 1, 2003, at 01:19  PM, Robert G. Halgren wrote:

> Can someone explain when you would prune fruit trees (apples) while 
> dormant as opposed summer pruning?  Believe it or not, my trees are 
> all still reasonably dormant here in central MI (well, they are 
> greening up the cambium, but not yet budding out).
>
> The apple trees that came with the house have not been pruned in the 
> better part of 15 years, I'd estimate.  I took a fair amount of wood 
> out last spring (about 25%), and need to take a whole lot more. So, 
> when is the best time to remove a large amount of wood?
>
> And, assuming I wanted to take 3/4+ of a tree out this year, when 
> would be the best time to do it?  This one has the main trunk leaning 
> well out over the pasture next door (at about a 45% angle, at that).  
> The horses like it, but I'm afraid the tree is going to fall over.  
> There is a nice upright leader coming off the main trunk (well above 
> the graft, if there is one), and I was considering just whacking off 
> the offending growth right there.  It is pretty much all or nothing.  
> The chainsaw is sharp...
>
> Thanks!
>
> -- 
> Robert G. Halgren, Ph.D.
> Bioinformatics Specialist
> GTSF - Michigan State University
> http://genomics.msu.edu
> (517) 353-7236    -   halgren at msu.edu
>
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