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Advice on apple trees

Advice wanted for a neighbour. They have an apple tree estimated to be 16-20 years old it is approximately 12ft high with 8 stems about 3-4in diameter, and fruits every year, I have been asked if the tree was to be cut down by half would it regrow and fruit again in years to come.Thanks. 


  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,811
    Cutting it down by half would be a brutal pruning which wouldn't have a good outcome. The tree would respond by throwing out hundreds of new thin stems called watershoots and it would take years of careful pruning to get it back to productive fruiting.
    A better plan would be to do limited pruning spread over the next few years to keep it in good condition. There are lots of videos online which will show this approach.
  • ColinAColinA Posts: 386
    Thanks for the info i will pass it on
  • pinutpinut Posts: 190
    Yes, a chopped-back bare trunk will grow new branches. Those new branches will bear fruiting spurs in about 2-3 years and, hence, fruit if they are pruned. If left to grow unchecked then it will take longer.

    If an apple tree does not grow in the shape I want then I some times do a aggressive chop and remove all branches and force it to regrow new ones.

    In commercial orchards where they want to change the variety grown, they go to even more drastic measures. They will chop a whole tree down to a two foot stump (some times less) and graft on a new variety. Where possible, they leave a thick long branch on the stump to lessen the amount of sap and energy sent to the new grafts in order to increase the success rate of them taking.
  • FireFire Posts: 18,038
    Worth getting an expert tree surgeon to advise.
  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,458
    edited October 2022
    With fruit trees it's good to have a goblet shaped branch structure with it open in the centre, which gives good air flow, reduces diseases and opens up the middle to more sun.  Depending on how thick the branch structure on your friend's tree is, maybe cut out one or two of the inside branches.  This should be done in winter when the tree is dormant.
    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
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