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Old 01/20/13, 09:27 AM
IowaLez's Avatar
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Question Pruning Semi-Dwarf Fruit Trees?

Hi All,

I have a small orchard of semi-dwarf fruit trees that need to be pruned for the first time. They are on semi-dwarfing rootstocks. It is dead of Winter here, and very cold, so it's a great time for me to go out there and do the work.

Anyways, it's one pie cherry, 2 apricots, and 7 various American plums. The Toka semi-dwarf plum went nuts, tho, and is quite large, it dwarfs the other trees. I don't know why. I also have 3 bush cherries and 2 Manchurian bush apricots, and 8 semi-dwarf apple trees.

How much do I prune back the new growth? I know how to do the apples, but the rest, no... Or should I be more severe since I haven't pruned them at all and Summer 2012 was their 4th growing season? They are thickly branched and very healthy, growing like weeds.

Thanks for your help!

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Last edited by IowaLez; 01/20/13 at 09:28 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 01/20/13, 02:47 PM
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I can tell you what we were told at the fruit tree seminar yesterday and you can do what you will with the info.

We were told to not prune until just before bud break. For us, that is February. As Dr Stein said, " I know you will want to go home and practice what you have just learned, but you will be doing yourself and the trees a favor by waiting. "

And he said on older trees that have had no pruning, take out no more than 1/3

We were shown to take out basically the main trunk out of the middle and leave 3-4 scaffold branches, coming out from the sides and up and around the main trunk.

The other thing I found out was with apples and pears, you take the limbs on the side that grow straight up along the main trunk, bend them out and down and tie them down to encourage spurs to grow from the top side of the limbs and those will be fruit producing wood later.

I have a 12 year old peach that has never been pruned. When we got home yesterday, I went out and studied it. I know exactly what branches will be removed, but just waiting on the right time.

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Old 01/20/13, 06:41 PM
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Thank you so much for the help, BobbyB, I will take your instructor's advice to wait on pruning. The trees are already in the vase shape from their initial pruning as youngsters, so they got off to a decent start.

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Old 01/20/13, 09:28 PM
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Bobby is right on; and this is the practice I follow for all pruning, even grapes, i.e. wait until just prior to budding season. (I follow the pruning by spraying a solution of Oil/Sulfur, which is the 2nd spraying done that winter.)

Also, one of our own posters suggested it is best to take off the limbs from ground to 3 ft up; leave those growing in opposite directions; then take off those limbs in an 18-inch space above those limbs. (To keep the tree short, just take off top of main trunk; and NEVER TAKE MORE THAN ONE-THIRD OF THE TREE AT ANY TIME.)

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