Although pruning is never mandatory, it helps nonetheless to promote tree growth and fruit formation on fruit trees.
You’ll never make irreparable mistakes if you follow these tips on how to prune apple trees and pear trees.
This is basic advice that will increase your harvest and ensure that the tree grows properly.
If you’re a novice, you’ll see that your accumulating experience will quickly become an asset for you and for your fruit trees.
Pruning tools for apple trees and pear trees
Of course a good pair of hand pruners and branch pruners can be more than enough; however, sometimes other tools come in handy, here is the list.
- A hand pruner for small branches.
- A branch pruner or pruning lopper for larger branches.
Avoid climbing up ladders for tall trees. Much better to use telescoping pole pruning loppers.
- A curved saw for branches that are a bit larger still, digging into the branch as you pull the blade towards you.
- Eventually, pruning paste for the largest branches.
1 – Directional pruning, during the year of planting
This must absolutely be performed on a non-freezing day.
Proper pruning must be smooth, accurate and always in a diagonal plane to avoid having water infiltrate the cut wood.
- The goal is to shape the structure of the tree.
- Remove branches that cross each other, keeping the larger and more vigorous ones.
You’ll thus give the tree a shape.
- Cut just above an eye (a bud) facing outwards, about 24 inches (60 cm) from the trunk.
This step will enhance the growth of your fruit tree.
- Once it is performed, pruning takes a major part in the proper development of your tree.
2 – Fruit-inducing pruning for apple trees and pear trees
Fruit-inducing pruning is similar for pear trees and apple trees. It must be performed yearly, in fall and at the end of winter, just before the spring vegetation phase.
It is important, since without this pruning, apple and pear trees only bear fruit every second year.
Fall pruning for apple & pear trees
- Remove old fruits that may have stayed on the branches, especially those infected with European brown rot.
- Learn more about fruit-inducing pruning.
At the end of winter or very beginning of spring
After having cleaned it up, thin the fruit tree branches.
- Start with removing dead branches, those that cross over each other, and wounded wood.
- Remove all branches that grow towards the inside of the tree.
They won’t bear much fruit and will reduce fruit formation overall.
- At the end only, go about pruning the main branches going around the tree.
You’ll cut the branches that grew during the previous year back to the 2nd or 3rd bud.
- Always cut just above a bud facing outwards to restrict inwards growth.
Here is a video with our pruning tips for apple and pear trees
Smart tip about pruning apple trees and pear trees
Once this work has been prepared, apply pruning paste on open wounds of larger branches.
This step isn’t mandatory, but it is highly recommended!
- Growing an apple tree
- Growing a pear tree
- Espalier pruning of apple and pear trees
- All the different pruning techniques: shrubs, hedges, rose trees, hydrangea…
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Drawing of where to prune (also on social media) by Jardiner Malin, own work