Gardening through the Seasons with Margaret Finch / Pruning Fruit Trees

There are always plenty of jobs that can be achieved in our gardens even at this time of year. Thoughts might turn to pruning Apple Trees sometimes with uncertainty and
do I or don’t I prune ?.
It’s a standing around job looking and measuring up where to start so choose a bright
sunny February day as hands can get cold quickly.
I did just mention sunny  and you are so right to question the first instruction as we have had a record amount of rain.
Inspect your tree and it’s shape ideally an open goblet shape is the best.
In the past Gardeners  would throw their hats through the middle of the tree without hitting any branches! So open branches and plenty of air.
So cut out the 2C’s
Crossing and Crowded Branches.
Then cut out the 3D’ s
Damaged, Dead and Diseased Branches.
Consider the height, which is easy if it is a young tree. Growing a shorter tree makes picking fruit so much easier and less waste .

It is possible to prune the laterals back to 7 buds in the summer which encourages more energy into the fruit. This can be done between July and September.
Pruning can also be done November to February before flowering.
It is definitely easier to see the structure of the trees without leaves which makes your
pruning much easier.

There are lots of different types of tree shapes to choose from. A couple of most popular are the bush shaped trees, and the Espalier trained trees which grow flat, they make a brilliant structure at the back of the border and are very space saving. You can use general pruning techniques on both types of trees.

As photo before and after pruning back to the second bud by choice an outward bud
keeping the shape and not forgetting the 2C’s and 3D’s
A bush trees laterals can be pruned back to one half of the length to an outward facing
bud.
If you are unable to prune at the moment your trees will still produce fruit but pruning 
will encourage more fruit so be prepared for lots of apple crumbles.
Apples trees can be biennial fruiting.

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