Growing apple trees is a rewarding experience. They serve as home beautifiers for many and generate income for orchard growers.
To get the best out of your apples, you need to be conscious about taking care of them. One of the best ways to take care of your apple plant is by pruning.
So, the question is; why, when, and how do you prune your Apples? Just keep calm and continue reading.
Why Prune Your Apples?
Why Prune Your Apples?
If you have apple trees, you should prune them. Here’s why,
Less shading – shading blocks sunlight from reaching the inside of apple trees. If there is no sunlight, it decreases growth and weakens branches.
Improves circulation of air – If you have improved air circulation, it decreases the occurrences of pests and disease.
Removes dead, diseased, or dying branches – This lowers incidences of diseases
Keep the tree to a desirable height – You get a manageable height when picking your fruits.
Open canopy – this encourages the growth of big and healthy fruits.
Promote apple health – through improved light penetration, air movement, and faster drying
When is the Right Time to Prune
If you realize your apple trees need pruning, don’t start pruning yet. Get your timing right.
You should prune your apple in late winter or early spring when the tree is dormant and before lush growth begins for the season. Here’s why,
- Buds are visible. You can work around and cut wounds heals before insects come out in the spring.
- Pruning lowers winter hardiness and makes the tree vulnerable to winter injury from low temperatures for 3 weeks after planting.
If you like you can prune in summer ( July or August), but ensure you lightly prune your apples at this time as it weakens the tree.
A weak tree before harvest can lead to:
- Decrease in fruit size and quality
- Snapping of branches when fruiting.
Which Apple Trees To Prune
If your apple has turned to a shade tree, then prune. Keep in mind you should not prune all trees. Ensure to prune lightly until your trees are more than three years old. If your apple requires heavy pruning, spread pruning over several seasons by doing portions. Prune the following
Prune the Diseased Apples
You can also prune the diseased part of the Apple. Sometimes, some parts of Apple will appear unhealthy, diseased, or broken. You need to take these parts out to avoid a situation where the diseases spread.
Besides, these damaged parts of the apple tend to attract pests which is something you do not want. Now, after cutting these parts from the apple make sure you dispose of these parts. Never try to use the damaged leaves or apple stems as compost. If you do this, you are giving the disease an avenue to spread all through your apple trees. If this happens, you might end up killing your precious apple.
Prune Overgrown Apples
Apples with overgrown twigs and branches need to be pruned. Also, when Apples become leggy, too big, or heavy, you need to prune them too. The reason for this is to ensure that the Apples become healthier. Another reason for this is to enable Apple to grow in a healthy environment. You should only cut overgrown Apples when they are healthy.
The healthy Apples will have green, shiny and firm leaves. On the other hand, unhealthy Apples will have dry, limp, brown, or yellow leaves. When the leaves are unhealthy, cutting them might make Apple struggle to survive or grow back. That is why you have to wait until the Apples become healthier.
How To Prune Your Apples
Acquire the Right Tools
It’s important to keep the following tools handy when set for pruning:
Hand pruners -You can use this tool to remove small twigs and branches. You’ll use this tool more often, so keep them sharp and handy.
Loppers – These have long handles and provide more leverage when pruning bigger branches. They’re used to prune branches larger than 1″ in diameter.
Saw – You can use this tool when pruning limbs larger than 3″ in diameter.
Pole pruners – The tool consists of a blade attached to a long pole. It is used for reaching high branches.
Tips for Apple Tree Pruning
Always keep in mind the following tips when pruning:
- Be cautious to avoid heavy pruning. If a tree has taken many years without pruning, spread pruning over seasons. This reduces the stress at any one time.
- If you have to decide which of two live branches close together and you need to remove, prune the unproductive one with fewer buds/flowers.
- To make it safe for you, remove branches in smaller sections.
- Select branches to prune depending on the angle at which they grow. Ensure you keep branches that grow upward;
- Remove branches growing upward and downwards.
- Sprouts are the branches that grow straight up, they are usually too vigorous and cast shade on lower branches.
- Branches pointing down are weak and bear no fruit.
- After an initial pruning to determine the shape.
- Pruning promotes leafy shoots instead of fruit. So it delays fruiting in young apple trees.
Clear all of the pruned branches. This is to prevent possible diseases or insect pests from infecting your tree.
You will agree with us that pruning an apple tree is an important task to orchard growers. We are confident that if you follow the pruning tips, your apple trees will become productive and healthy.
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