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Fruit trees, to prune or not to prune

Hya everybody,  fell for the hype and bought a "set" of 4 fruit trees from a T.V. channel, planted out in tubs from same channel and all seemed O'K, snag is, cherry has all foliage nearly too high to reach and apple has four lower horizontal branches that have grown so long that they are almost drooping to the floor, some of the leaves have also been removed by birds, leaving a bare patch mid branch.

My question is, should I cut back these branches to a less droopy length ? 

Pear and Plum seem to be O'K, (so far)





  • bekkie hughesbekkie hughes Posts: 5,294
    Morning, i purchased fruit trees from them a couple of years back too, mine were the same, i went ahead and cut loads off, just have a read up on each variety, unlees you are very heavy handed, the worst that can happen is no fruit next year, and technically, you should pick the blossom off in the first year any how (i never had the heart to!).

    Anyhow, happy new trees! image
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923

    apples and pears are pruned twice a year, in winter for growth (as in, if you cut you will get more next year) and during the summer to maximise fruiting,

    In early august I usually remove the tips of this years growth back to four or five leaves, this causes the tree to produce spars which on my tree is where the flowers and therefore fruit comes from.(plus it stops the branches getting all long and gangly) and then in winter I remove dead, damaged or crossing wood.

    cherry's and plums you prune in the spring (usually around April)  just before bud burst and in late July, in April reduce the leader (the tallest bit of the tree that's growing straight up) by two thirds until the tree reaches the size you want then cut it back to 1 inch (or even off altogether) in May.

    in July you shorten the new growth back to about 8 inches (usually about five leaves) this causes the branch to grow spurs, I tend to remove damaged and crossing branches at this point too although others leave that till April when you can see more of the shape of the tree.

    in both cases you want a nice open goblet or bowl shaped tree that's about 2m tall (so you can pick it) the branches want to be so far apart that you can throw a golf ball thru the tree.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    That sounds like good advice, treehugger.  I shall do my best to follow it!

  • Thanks for the response folks,

    bekkie, going to start reading tomorrow ,if time permits, how are your trees coming along now? had any fruit yet ?

    Verdun, no chance this year of cordon or espalier,all trees are in pots, don't want to disturb them again yet, Apple is Braeburn, it's 3feet to top of main stem but another leader has grown upwards about 18/20 inches.

    Cherry is Stella, it has been grafted but don't know what the rootstock is, height is about 6 feet and main leader is still growing 

    Pear is Conference about 5 feet tall as is the Victoria Plum, the branches of these have been shaped into a rough goblet shape by taping sticks between them to spread them apart

    treehugger, have copied your instructions ready to print, thanks

    Thanks once again folks for your time
















  • What a coincidence!  bought G.W. magazine this A.M. and there's a feature in it all about pruning, with pictures, so even I can understand it!!

  • bekkie hughesbekkie hughes Posts: 5,294
    Hi Peter, i had a different mix, peaches x2, apricot, cherries x2 and a plum, the peaches and apricots had fab blossom and some fruit, but i removed them as i had to move the trees,cherries are romping, pum is trying to take over the world, so again, got moved and had a severe hair cut image

    I aslo have a cofrence pear which is around 12yrs, it grows into a lovely goblet shape with almost no interferance from me

    My apple trees are cordons (ish), very easy to prune and to keep at a managable size

    Hope it goes well for you and we get some pics image
  • Bekkie,  Glad you're having success with your trees, been reading up on cutting mine, will attack them when weather bucks up, been raining none stop all day and more forecast for the weekend, so looks like having a weekend off. Piccies will follow for same reason,

    Thanks for your answer







    Apple tree before & after piccies as promised, probably gone too far but we'll see



  • bekkie hughesbekkie hughes Posts: 5,294
    Are you fan training it? If you arent those branches need to be shorter as they wont be able to hold the weight of the apples image

    I prune mine to a couple of clusters of leaves on each branch, you could probably take another third off the long branches, or more if you want to.

    If you are fan training then that should be enough image
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