Edmonton Fruit Tree Pruning Tips

Edmonton Fruit Tree Pruning Tips

Edmonton has a short growing season but still has a lot of potential for fruit!  Mike at Arbor Man Tree Care gets asked this question all the time!  You can maximize our short growing season with these Edmonton Fruit Tree Pruning Tips.

 

Fruit Tree Vs. Normal Tree Pruning

Pruning Fruit trees is different than ordinary trees.  Fruit trees have to bear the weight of the fruit they produce.  That means that we have to make sure the branches are thicker and more robust to carry that weight.  Prune the outermost branches of the tree to prevent long and thin branches.  We are giving the tree a haircut.  Pruning also activates some of the fruit stimulating hormones, which means you will have more fruit.   Cut off 20% to 30% of last season’s growth.

 

When Should I Prune my Tree

Fruit trees are a lot like regular trees for time to prune them.  The one season that you should never prune a tree is in the fall.  Typically you want to prune a tree when it is dormant.  We want it to undergo as little stress as possible.

  • Spring Pruning – This is an excellent time to prune your tree if you are trying to minimize the size of the tree. The tree will grow less quickly during the growing season and have thicker branches
  • Summer Pruning – Will cause even slower growth. It may stress the tree out as well.  Please only do summer pruning if you are an expert
  • Fall Pruning – We should never prune in fall. Stressing a tree out just before winter is a bad thing to do.
  • Winter Pruning – Winter is the best time to prune your fruit tree.  It will allow you to shape your tree as you want with the minimum of stress on the tree.

 

What style of tree produces the best fruit?

There are two main types of fruit tree pruning techniques.

  • Open center tree – This is a tree that has had its central leader cut and focuses more on the horizontal scaffolding branches.  Open Center trees produce more fruit and are easier to gather fruit. The branches receive more light during the growing season.  Typically the first cut to the central leader is done on a young tree.  If your tree is older, it may be too late to prune your tree in the fashion
  • Central leader tree – These trees are the types of trees most of us think about when we think about trees.  They have a strong central leader, which makes for a taller tree.  Commercial orchards use this method to have many trees growing closely together.  For your home, though, it will produce a tall, nice looking tree.  It may be hard to get the fruit from the higher branches.

 

Three steps you should follow when pruning your fruit tree

  • Clean up: Remove dead damaged, or diseased wood from the tree. Remove any suckers or sprouts coming from the bottom of the tree. Remove all directly vertical spouts going straight up from the main branches.  These are called waterspouts.
  • Thin: Thining the tree will allow more light and air to enter the canopy. Remove any branches that grow downward, back towards the center of the tree, or are crossing with another branch.  The tree will focus its resources on productive branches.  You want your tree to have even branches.  Remove any branches that are competing with each other for resources.  Make sure there is at least 6-12 inches between branches.  All of these cuts should be made flush to the branch.
  • Haircut: Give the tree a haircut. Remove the outermost growth of the tree, so the branches of the tree become thicker and stronger.  Thicker branches help them bear the weight of the fruit they will produce during the growing season.  Try to remove 20-30 percent of the previous growing seasons’ growth.  You will be able to identify last year’s growth by the wrinkly ring of bark encircling each stem.  Make the cut above a bud by ¼ of an inch.

 

What kind of tools do I need?

You only need a few tools to prune any tree:

 

  • Sharp hand pruning shears. These will be your primary tool.  Most branches, suckers, or anything on the tree can be cut with sharp hand shears.
  • Pruning Saw. This tool is used to make significant cuts on branches too thick to cut with hand shears.  Make sure it is sharp, so you do not tear the bark of the tree
  • Lopping Shears – These are shears with a long handle.  They will allow you to prune larger branches and branches that are higher up.  As with all other tools, make sure these are sharp!

 

For professional consultation on your fruit tree, please contact Mike at Arbor Man Tree Care.