When is the Best Time to Prune Apple Trees?
The process of pruning apple trees is not a difficult task to complete. Trees that are not pruned correctly
will be congested with old branches and will be less productive the following season. The main goal of any
pruning is to create a basic framework with at least five main branches. You will find that the best time to
prune apple trees is in the winter, just before the onset of spring.
Pruning in winter will be the best option for bushes and standard apple trees. Summer pruning can be a better
option for spindle bushes and other restricted forms of apple trees. Pruning should be done when the tree is in a
dormant state. This is usually between the leaf fall and when bud burst occurs. Trees are typically at this state
between the months of November to early in March.
How to Prune Apple Trees
The pruning technique that is used will depend on whether trees will develop fruit that are on the spurs or near
the tips of the shoots created the previous season. This will mean apple trees will be a tip bearer or a spur. One
thing to keep in mind is the first stage of the pruning process is the same for both types.
A pruning saw will need to be used or a sharp pair of loppers or a good pole saw. All dead, weak, diseased, damaged, and dying
branches need to be removed first. Remove larger branches with the pruning saw to keep the center of the trees
open. Spread the work over two or more seasons if many large branches will need to be removed. Cut large
branches back to a lower branch that is vigorous.
Spur-Bearing Apple Trees
Shorten by one-third the previous year's growth of every main branch to a new bud. All side shoots need to be cut
back that are growing from the framework. Remove any shoots that may be badly-placed.
Tip Bearing Apple Trees
The previous year's growth needs to be pruned on each of the main branches. Any non-pruned side shoots that are
about one-foot long should be left alone. Reduce congestion by cutting back any older fruiting wood to a younger
Any apples trees that may have been neglected can be brought back to productive growth. This process may require
the advice and help of an expert.
One thing to keep in mind about pruning apple trees is they can easily suffer cold damage.