Apple trees pruning - best time

Discussion in 'Fruit and Nut Trees' started by Daniel Mosquin, Feb 25, 2003.

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Renowned Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    The following message was received via email:

    Hi - I hope I am in the right place to ask for advice but if I am not perhaps you could give me a contact for my questions or forward this direct to them. I have a long south east facing wall covered with espaliered apple trees. We moved into this house and wonderful garden in North Van, last January, a year ago and the trees were already neglected but they produced a wonderful crop of the best tasting apples we have ever eaten! Since we would like a repeat harvest this summer I am anxious to get someone who really knows what he/she is doing, to prune them. I don't have much faith in the local landscape gardeners who seem to be very casual about pruning. There also seems to be a problem with timing this year since this crazy weather is confusing the bulbs to come up to soon and the sap to rise in the trees. I am getting quite anxious to prune although I have been told that usually mid February to March is the best time. Hope you can help!
     
  2. HortLine

    HortLine Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    We have contacted you by email!
     
  3. when IS the best time to prune apples? we live in castlegar and moved into a home with 40-60 year old apple trees.......dont know what to do with them!
     
  4. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years of Activity

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    The proper pruning of woody plants follows a few basic rules:

    Winter pruning (usually performed in January or February) tends to invigorate the shoots from which wood has been removed. In other words, winter pruning encourages strong replacement branches.

    Summer pruning (usually in June or July) tends to reduce vigour and size, since actively photosynthetic area is being reduced.

    Good pruning practice generally balances these two effects.
     
  5. biggam

    biggam Active Member

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    If your trees were neglected, as you say, and they produced a good crop of apples, then do not get your hopes up for another great crop next year. Generally, apples need to be thinned, so they do not overcrop. Overcropping, besides smaller, lower-quality fruit, usually results in a reduced crop the following year; as this cycle is perpetuated by neglect, the tree becomes biennial bearing. Now, with this in mind, know it may take a few years of proper care for the trees to become managable, regular-bearing trees. A very important concept of pruning apples is to not overdo it: do not attempt to prune a neglected tree into a properly-shaped tree in one season. Vigorous replacement branches will shoot out, and there will be trouble in getting the tree into a calm, reproductive habit. Summer pruning should be very limited, as wounding in warm weather can encourage infection of fireblight bacteria -- remove adventitious shoots while they are still small, new-growth branches that will not be wanted -- all this can be done before the end of June. Late winter pruning is recommended for opening up the canopy, removing branches that are directly below or above another branch, removing branches with narrow crotch angles. The best time is after the coldest weather has passed, and while the trees are still dormant -- about late January to mid-March where I live. Again, if this has not been done in a few years, then do some now, some the next year, and then get out and prune a little every year. Once you have a more managable tree in that sense, be sure to pay attention to thinning. It may only need done every other year (on the UP year,) depending on the cultivar or recent neglect.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years of Activity

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    Fireblight will not be a problem in North Vancouver. Likely most mature apple trees should be mostly left alone anyway, except for any pest (bacteria, fungi or bugs) control that may seem to be needed. Pruning of these is probably best limited to occasional removal of a few entire branches, as recommended by Brickell/Joyce, Pruning & Training (DK) rather than trying to work over the whole thing.
     

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