How to Prune Young Apple Trees

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Apple tree pruning is a horticultural practice that shapes and controls the growth of apple trees. In many cases, the goal of pruning is to maximize fruit production.

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Why prune apple trees?

Pruning apple trees is an important part of their overall health and production. It may seem daunting to cut into a young tree, but pruning helps to shape the tree for optimum fruit production and growth. It also removes dead or diseased branches that can spread disease throughout the tree.

Prune young apple trees in the late winter or early spring before the buds begin to swell. This will allow you to see the structure of the tree more clearly and make more precise cuts. Start by removing any dead, diseased, or damaged branches. Cut these back to the point of healthy growth. Then, remove any crossing or rubbing branches. These can damage the bark and lead to disease in the future. Finally, cut back any branches that are growing upwards or outwards instead of towards the center of the tree. This will help create a more compact growth habit and encourage fruit production.

When to prune apple trees?

The best time to prune your apple tree is in late winter or early spring before the buds start to open. You can also prune in late summer or early fall, but avoid pruning in late fall or winter because the cuts may not heal properly and could allow pests and diseases to enter the tree.

When pruning, always use clean, sharp tools and make sure to disinfect them between cuts to avoid spreading diseases. Make sure to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood first, then focus on shaping the tree. You can remove up to one-third of the overall growth each year without harming the tree.

How to prune apple trees?

Proper pruning of young apple trees is important to ensure the future health and production of the tree. There are a few steps that should be taken when pruning young apple trees.

Pruning tools

Pruning shears, loppers and pruning saws are the main tools you will need to prune your apple tree. You will also need a ladder if the tree is too tall for you to reach the top branches.

Pruning shears are small, hand-held cutting tools that can be used to make small cuts. Loppers are larger cutting tools that can be used to make bigger cuts. Pruning saws are used to make very large cuts and are often used to remove entire branches.

When choosing a pruning tool, be sure to select one that is the right size for the job. If the tool is too small, it will be difficult to make clean cuts. If the tool is too large, it will be difficult to control and could damage the tree.

The three D’s of pruning

Pruning apple trees is an important task that helps promote fruit production and tree health. Trees should be pruned when they are young to encourage proper growth and development. Pruning also helps to remove diseased or damaged branches, which can improve the overall appearance of the tree.

There are three main types of pruning cuts: thinning, heading, and renewal. Thinning cuts are made toremove entire branches, while heading cuts remove a portion of a branch. Renewal cuts are made toremove old, overgrown branches.

When pruning apple trees, it is important to follow the “three D’s” rule: Remove dead, diseased, or damaged branches first; then remove any branch that is rubbing against another branch; finally, remove any branch that is crowded or growing in an undesirable direction.

Crown raising

One of the simplest and most common pruning methods is called crown raising. This involves removing some of the lower branches of the tree to create clearance for vehicles, pedestrians, buildings, and so on. Crown raising is often done on young apple trees to make room for a mower or tractor. It’s also done on mature trees to provide clearance for power lines.

To crown raise an apple tree, prune away any branches that are growing below knee height. Be sure to make clean cuts at a 45-degree angle about ¼ inch above a bud or branch node. Avoid pruning too much off the tree at one time, as this can stress the plant and lead to dieback.

Crown thinning

Crown thinning is the selective removal of shoots and branches to increase light penetration and air circulation through the canopy. This type of pruning is often carried out on young apple trees to stimulate growth in the lower crown and encourage the production of fruit buds lower down the tree.

To crown thin an apple tree, start by removing any dead, diseased or damaged wood. Then, remove any crossing, rubbing or crowded branches, as well as any shoots that are growing vertically or at too acute an angle (less than 45 degrees from the horizontal). Once you have removed all of these problem branches, you can then start to selectively thin out the remaining growth in order to achieve the desired level of light penetration and air circulation. This usually involves removing around one third of the remaining shoots.

Selective pruning

Selective pruning is the process of removing certain parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots, while leaving the rest of the plant intact. selective pruning is often used to control the growth of a plant, encourage fruit production, or reduce the spread of disease.

To selectively prune an apple tree, start by removing any dead or dying branches. Then, cut back any crossing or rubbing branches so they don’t damage the tree. Next, remove any suckers that are growing from the base of the tree. Finally, thin out the branches to allow light and air to reach the center of the tree.

After pruning

Apples trees should be pruned every year in the late winter while they are dormant. This stimulates proper growth and ensures a plentiful fruit harvest. Proper pruning also prevents damage to the tree that can occur as it grows and matures.

Pruning young apple trees is different than pruning mature trees. Mature apple trees should be pruned to allow light and air into the center of the tree, whereas young apple trees should be pruned to encourage growth.

When pruning a young apple tree, the goal is to create a strong structure with a good framework of branches. The first step is to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood. Then, cut back any crossing or rubbing branches so that the remaining branches have room to grow. Finally, cut back any branches that are growing vertically instead of outwards.

After you have finished pruning, your young apple tree should have a well- balanced structure with evenly spaced branches.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books