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Pruning cooking apple tree

Hello, just moved into a house with two old cooking apples, had loads of tasty fruit in the autumn.  But how should I prune it?  Looks like it has been left for three years or so after a hard prune.  I plan to clear all the tiny branches internally that cross, but  how far back should I cut the strong new growth?




  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,246
    edited January 2019
    First of all, whoa!

    Secondly, if your tree fruited well last year why be in a rush to “improve” it?

    Thirdly, if you look at the tree you will see two different types of buds on it. Small hard, brown buds and bigger, grey, fluffy buds. The bigger grey fluffy buds are flower buds. So your tree has these in two different places on the branches. Some at the tips of some twigs and some more on small offshoot twigs, called ”spurs”.  The variety is known as a “partial tip bearer”. Cut those grey buds off and you won’t have loads of tasty apples next autumn.

    Apple trees don’t like a lot of sudden attention. If you are going to thin out the centre of the tree, do it in yearly stages, not more than 30% of the offending branches in any one year. If you do more, it will just grow more to compensate for what you have taken away.

    As to shortening the long upward pointing branches, do that in the summer, but only when you can see which tips will produce flowers in 2020 and which will not.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923
    first take out any diseased,dead or crossing branches.
    then go have cup of tea, this will stop you from cutting too much off in one go.
    then you can reduce the number of thin branches by a quarter (as in take out 1 in 4 branches) this will open the tree up a bit.
    then go and have a sit down and prune more next year.
    its easy to cut stuff off a tree, rather difficult to stick it back on.
  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy North London Posts: 5,841
    I concur absolutely with the advice above. Hard pruning in winter will just produce a lot of thin whippy growth, and so called water shoots. Prune for structure in the winter, and for fruit in the late summer. But as said before, go slow do it over several years.
    AB Still learning

  • Great thanks, I'll take it slowly! 
  • Fran IOMFran IOM Posts: 2,236
    Welcome to the forum @George_andthedragon. Hope you are pleased with the good advice given within 15 minutes. Just wanted to say I had to smile when reading your first few words as I thought you were describing the people you had moved in with..  :)
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