Growing your own fruit at home can be a very rewarding experience.
In the age of farm to plate eating, you cannot get much fresher than tree to mouth in seconds.
Growing productive fruit trees can seem like a daunting process but it need not be.
Learning a few basic principles can really help you get the best out of your orchard.
This Blog post will discuss what time of year is best to prune your fruit trees to ensure you have a healthy crop of fruit for years to come.
A common misconception is that you only prune fruit trees in winter.
This seems logical as the trees are in a dormant period and so pruning will not disturb their other processes.
Winter pruning is suitable for some trees at some stages of their lives; however, it is not true for most fruit trees.
Winter pruning of fruit trees results in vigorous new growth in the following season.
This can be undesirable in most cases as much of the tree’s stored energy is put into this new growth.
New growth on a tree will prevent the tree to fruit.
The result is that come late spring and early summer you have a tree thick with water shoots.
Water shoots are vigorous new growth and the tree will need pruning again.
This reaction happens as prior to entering dormancy during the winter the tree stores enough energy in its roots to create leaves for the canopy in the following spring.
Winter pruning removes many of the buds that the tree has accounted for.
So when the same amount of stored energy is applied to a smaller crown size, the tree attempts to regain the same size crown via water shoot production.
Winter pruning does have its uses though.
In the first few years of establishing an orchard, winter pruning is needed to create the desired structure for the tree.
You can take advantage of the strong reaction to prune and create the basic frame work that you desire for the tree.
Winter pruning can also be used to invigorate old fruit trees. Where you are basically restructuring the canopy and almost starting from scratch again.
The old, unproductive tree will be hard pruned in the winter and then new growth will be pruned to structure a new canopy.
So, for most situations once your orchard is established, summer pruning is required.
You need to wait until the trees have finished fruiting but before the leaves fall.
Pruning currently allows the tree to compensate for the reduced canopy size before it puts energy stores into its roots over winter.
Come the following spring you will have a different reaction than if you had winter pruned.
Instead of lots of water shoot production, the energy will now go into the existing branch and bud structure.
Including the fruiting wood that you have left from the previous years.
The result is that the tree maintains a similar size with much more of the store energy going into fruit production.
We will discuss how to prune fruit trees in subsequent Blog post.
In the meantime, here are a couple of resources for anyone wishing to learn more:
For fruit tree pruning advice, contact our arborists.
Make sure to check out all our “How To Provide Tree Maintenance Series” instructional guides.
These arborist guides are aimed for tree owners who are keen to get their hands dirty.
- How to plant a tree guide with plenty of helpful advice…
- How to prune a tree and how you can manage the condition of your trees…
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- How to care for your trees in the summer heat…
- How to trim a hedge the right way for the best results…
- How to provide tree work for trees blocking your view…
- How to stop tree leaves falling on your property…
- How to carry out smart tree attachments the right way…
- How to understand Arboricultural terminology…
- How to grow and prune an Avocado tree the right way…
- When to prune fruit trees by our expert arborists…
Rossy and the Team.
Rossy | 021 508 806 | treecareauckland.co.nz