What fruit trees need to be pruned before the spring?


Fruit trees deserve a training cut during the first years of their lives. The reasons are quite clear. Traditionally, we prune trees mainly because we want the crown to be perfectly shaped and able to carry and support all the rich harvest we wish for. It is also pruned to let more light inside, because more light makes various pests to “dislike” your tree. When is the best time to prune fruit trees, which trees need specific attention and how to actually prune them? We shall answer all these questions in the following lines.

Frost-free nights during February are an ideal time for pruning

Right now, in February, the time is becoming more and more suitable for pruning fruit trees. February days without freezing temperatures are the optimal time. Trees belonging to the pome fruit family should be pruned first. Mainly apple and pear trees. However it is advisable to wait little longer with trees belonging to the drupe fruit family – until April. These trees are much more susceptible to fungal diseases. pome fruit trees can withstand winter and early spring cuts without any problems. The crown is free of any leaves at this time and the tree handles everything better. We also should have more time for pruning in February then in April and during other warmer months.

prunning-treePhoto: Radek Štěpán

Why it pays to prune trees?

Someone may say that trees will grow even without pruning and probably will produce fruit anyway, so what is the big deal? Well, your harvest will be much smaller and most likely your trees will not live very long lives. Sure the training cut is rather radical approach as both the main shoots and the side branches are shortened by half. This pruning process is applied in the second year of tree growth. In the following years we perform the so-called maintenance pruning, which is done usually during the third year. This cut shortens branches by a third, the fourth year we shorten branches by a quarter and the fifth year by one fifth. During these maintenance cuts you must remove dry branches including those branches that tend to grow inside or into the crown and would make the crown undesirably thick.

Beware of specific varieties

Some apple trees, such as Bohemia or Ruby, only bear fruit on one-year-old shoots and therefore you shall remove the entire branches. Usually there are not many of those. For example, spur-type only bears fruit on shorter productive shoots.

Photo: Radek Štěpán

Radek Štěpán

Gardening is my hobby, I have a lot of experience and I am happy to share it.


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