Take some time to observe your beloved apple, pear or cherry tree that you have enjoyed sitting in the shade of over the summer. Now that it’s time for pruning they need all your attention. Follow our advice and next year you will have healthy fruit trees that produce a good crop.
Indispensable pruning tools
- Secateurs. As fruit trees are prone to disease it is essential that secateurs provide a clean, smoot cut to reduce the spread of diseases. To obtain clean cuts, the blades of the secateurs must be sharp.
- Pruning saw. For thicker branches you will need a pruning saw.
- Ladder. For pruning tall fruit trees always make sure you use a sturdy (stable) ladder or stepladder.
Bakker.com has a wide range of pruning and cutting tools for you to choose from!
Keep five leaders on your apple and pear trees
Through the years you should keep five main branches (leaders), starting from the trunk and located at various heights in various directions. If necessary bend the branches and secure with rope or other strong tying material. The following year these ties can be removed. Each year shorten the side branches to half their length. Trees younger than 4 years can be pruned in March/April. Older trees can be pruned between December and March after they have lost their leaves.
Summer pruning for standards and half standards
To stimulate the development of the crown, you can start pruning in summer. Cut back ¾ of the reject shoots. The shoots that grow in a continuation of the leaders can be left. Bend the branches horizontally and secure them. This will stimulate bud formation. Remove any twigs that grow inwards.
Plum tree has four leaders
Plum trees are treated in almost the same way as apples and pears, except that plums are pruned in the summer and that only 3 to 4 leaders should be kept. If necessary, spread the branches by placing a piece of wood in the middle, such as a wedge. Plum trees need maintenance pruning once every two years. To keep the crown open, remove all branches that grow vertically on the trunk. Only trim branches that obstruct sunlight from reaching the fruit.
Ideal shape for cherry trees
Cherry is a sturdy tree that could easily outgrow an average sized garden. If you actually want to harvest and eat the cherries you can trim the tree into a pyramid shape that makes it easier for you to pick the fruit.
This is done as follows:
- Do not prune the tree after planting, it can be cut after the first year.
- Keep the pyramid shape at a height of about 2.5 to 3 m, which is a good height for the garden. .
- Prune the tree in August, so the pruning cuts will heal better.
- Keep 5 to 6 leaders spread out over the trunk so that the lower branches also get sufficient sunlight.
Old fruit tree rejuvenated
Old fruit trees can also be rejuvenated. Remove all branches that are growing inward as well as all damaged and diseased branches. The following year the leaders can be tackled. Cut them all to about the same length. If the pruning cuts are large they should be painted with a seal and heal protection. After pruning the fruit tree in summer or winter, young shoots will soon start to grow again.
Maintenance pruning for a mature tree
It is important to maintain the balance between the number of fruit bearing branches and growing branches. Also make sure the side branches that grow on the leaders (the branches that form the skeleton of the tree) do not get heavier than the leaders themselves. Keep the main frame of the tree about the same size throughout the years.