Pruning a 5 year old fruit tree
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Pruning a 5 year old fruit tree is a no brainer, for obvious reasons. If you haven’t pruned a fruit tree it’s going to be big and spindly and will be hard to manage.
However, a lot of people prune their fruit trees every year and some of them do it every time they think about it, which isn’t often. I’m going to talk about pruning every year in this series. First I’m going to say why you should do it, and then talk about a few different methods of pruning.
The Top 3 Reasons You Should Prune A Fruit Tree
Get your trees ready for the season – this means getting them all healthy so they’ll have a good crop.
Clean up your orchard – fruit trees are a lot like flowers in that they are easily overgrown and will be shabby if you don’t clean them up now and then.
You don’t have to do it, but you really should.
If you choose to skip out on the pruning this year then you’ll find yourself with a lot of fruit that’s not ready to eat yet, plus you’ll probably spend a lot of time pulling it all off the trees (although fruit trees don’t need to be pulled, you could thin them out if you want.)
This all adds up to big piles of fruit going to waste, plus you will spend time and effort with each fruit on the trees – which can be very frustrating. It’s time well spent pruning.
Choosing How and When To Prune
For the first two years or so you won’t really have much choice. By the time you get to the third year or so you can choose to do a general prune or you can prune more aggressively and thin out the fruit. This is important because thinning fruit out is the way you’ll get the most out of a tree, especially when it comes to getting cherries or apple trees to bear.
There is a good deal of controversy over when and when not to prune fruit trees.
In general I believe it is best to prune a fruit tree in spring and summer – you don’t want to prune the tree after fruit has been set. Prune early enough and the tree will heal, and it will continue to heal during the summer.
The most common fruit tree pruning technique is called the modified March/April system. In this system the branches are removed in the spring when the buds are just starting to break. You prune right into the growing season, and it’s important not to prune in late winter because you’ll cut off the buds before they break in the spring. This technique works with many fruit trees, but it’s not for everybody.
There’s another popular pruning technique called the August/September system. In this system you prune in the late fall, the month before the bud breaks in the spring. I find this technique hard to get my head around because it’s so confusing. I’ve been doing this technique for years, and I don’t know if it works or not. The good news is that you don’t need to use it – you can just stick to the March/April method.
The March/April method for pruning is the most logical, simplest, and easiest to use.
Now that I’ve explained the pros and cons of pruning your fruit trees, you might have some questions about it. Here are some answers.
Here are some quick answers to the most common questions about pruning fruit trees:
Q. When should I prune?A. I’d wait until your spring buds burst open before you prune. This is called the “green” pruning.
Q. What do I need to prune?A. You don’t need any special equipment or skills to do the pruning. You just need a pair of scissors and a sharp knife.
Q. When will my trees be pruned?A. There’s no right time to prune, but I like to start a few days before bud break to make sure everything is ready to be pruned. The pruning will start a day or two after bud break.
Q. What will my trees look like after pruning?A. You’ll have lots of branches that look like a little tree. You’ll also have some branches on your fruit trees that won’t grow leaves or flowers. These will be called spurs.
Q. What about fruit?A. I like to keep my fruit trees pruned until all of my fruit has reached the size I want it to be, and then I prune it again.
Q. Will my fruit trees ever be bigger?A. No, you can’t make a fruit tree grow any bigger by pruning.
Q. Why not make all of my fruit trees smaller?A. By “making all my trees smaller,” what do you mean? I want my fruit trees to grow as big as they will grow. I don’t think any of you want to spend your time pruning fruit trees all the time. But every once in a while, I like to prune my fruit trees to make them smaller, as I’ll explain in the next question.
Q. Do you prune my fruit trees with a knife?A. No, it’s not a knife. A pruning shears, also called a sickle or a hedge clipper, is what you use.
Q. What size sickle do I need?A. A good size sickle is called a “thirteen- and a half inch.” And I like to use a size four sickle. It’s called a size four because the sickle will cut about a quarter inch. If I need a little more than a quarter inch cut, I use a size two sickle, which is called a quarter-inch.
Q. Where is the best place to prune my fruit trees?A. The best place to prune a tree is up where you can see everything. You can prune right up under the branches to make the tree smaller.
Q. Will I know when