Homesteading Forum banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Please bear with this...I'm new to the fruit tree arena. We close on our homestead in a couple of days. There is a well established apple tree on the property. Like many things on the property it's been awhile since someone took care of it. I was wondering what is a good time of year to prune? Can I do it this late since we've already had frost and snow expected in a couple days? Should I just wait until spring? HELP!!! Thanks:facepalm:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,575 Posts
What Po Boy says, especially if it's been a long time, and you need to do some hard pruning. You may want to break it up into two or more years and go slow. First year just clean the tree up nicely and prune out sick, diseased and damaged stuff. Second year start taking it where you want to go.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,207 Posts
you already got great advice... just here to say I agree with doing a bit each year and not all at once. Here in MIchigan I do in early March
 
  • Like
Reactions: beegrowing and Lizg

·
Retired farmer-rancher
Joined
·
3,022 Posts
Above posts are right. Do it when the tree is dormant, Feb or March before any sign of budding. Also, never remove more than 1/3 of the tree at one time. It might take you a few years to catch up if it has been neglected for long.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,729 Posts
When I was growing up I worked for a farmer who had a couple hundred acres of apple trees. He had about 4 full time employees and a couple of part timers which was me - We would start trimming them in late November and work right up until the trees had small leaves. Even then we never got them all done. He used to joke that he always liked to say he had so many trees he wasn't able to get them all trimmed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
63 Posts
Please bear with this...I'm new to the fruit tree arena. We close on our homestead in a couple of days. There is a well established apple tree on the property. Like many things on the property it's been awhile since someone took care of it. I was wondering what is a good time of year to prune? Can I do it this late since we've already had frost and snow expected in a couple days? Should I just wait until spring? HELP!!! Thanks:facepalm:
Yes, now is the time. Look at the tree, and there should be some relatively large main limbs emanating from the trunk. These are "scaffolds." There should also be a certain number of unbranched branches growing directly from these "scaffolds." These are called "laterals." There won't be very many laterals if the tree has been neglected, because most of the branches will have grown branches of their own. This is OK.

Now hack off everything that is neither a scaffold nor a lateral. You will likely be removing the vast majority of the topgrowth. Literally, trace up the trunk, turn onto the scaffold, and turn onto the lateral. If you have to turn more than twice, cut whatever it is back to the scaffold.

There are those who will warn you that this can/will kill the tree. Unlikely. I have never seen it happen to a healthy tree. What you will be left with this year will look scrawny, because there will be few unbranched laterals. The ones you leave this year will be cut off the next. And watch out, because next year, there will be so dang many laterals that you may end up needing to thin them. But after that, just cut off anything more than second year growth.

The reason for this is that most apples grow on second year wood. This means that whatever was brand new this year will fruit next year. You are pruning to maintain laterals, in order to keep the tree open to the air, and to promote the growth of that wood which makes fruit.

There is a rare chance that you have "spur fruiting" apples. But you should still prune like I described this fall, and then post pictures of the flowering/fruiting structures next spring/summer for further advice.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top