Pruning an apple tree : when and how ? Our advice

In addition to restructuring the fruit tree, pruning the apple tree promotes fruiting. It must be done carefully and at the right time, that is, preferably in winter when it is not freezing. It is therefore necessary on the one hand to clarify the silhouette of the tree while preserving its structure and to ensure the conservation of the fruit buds. Let’s review the interest of pruning an apple tree, its principle, the tools needed to prune without attacking it but also without disrupting the growth of the fruit shrub so that it continues its development and that we can harvest beautiful apples every year.

Pruning the apple tree: what is the use?

In addition to maintaining the good health of the apple tree, pruning serves to increase the solidity of its skeleton. It is also welcome to allow the sap to feed the highest branches without hindrance and consequently to favor the growth of the terminal buds. This is called theacrotonias.

The pruning of the apple tree also allowsclear up the heart of the tree. Thus, its crown will be more airy and will benefit from better luminosity. This clarification also limits the occurrence of cryptogamic diseases. The quality of the apples will therefore be optimal. Finally, note that by pruning this fruit tree according to the rules of the art, we limit the seasoning, that is to say the phenomenon of alternation which is manifested by strong fruiting followed, the following year, by a rarefaction, or even a total absence of fruit.

If you never prune an apple tree, you will notice, for example, the withering of the interior branches, an excessive load on many branches because of the weight of the apples as well as a weakening of the main branches which end up breaking.

The main principles of respectful pruning of the apple tree

To properly prune an apple tree, you must not cut too far or too close to an eye and preferably only attack branches whose diameter is less than 6 cm. Is removed less than a third of the leaf area, namely the space occupied by the leaves. You also have to choose the right moment. You can opt for a summer pruning or a winter pruning, but each of them has a very specific impact on this fruit tree, namely:

  • The summer size: it causes a vegetative arrest. It is only essential if you want to eliminate suckers so that they do not turn into real wood from the end of September. This pruning should be long on weak trees and short on vigorous trees.
  • The winter pruning: the off-season is preferred period to prune pome trees because their fruits develop as much on the old branches as on the young ones. In addition, the leaves having all fallen, it is much easier to identify each flower bud and each wood eye because it is essential to differentiate them at this crucial moment. Finally, at this time of year, we limit the disease risks at pruning wounds. This is quite logical since healing is favored by the fact that in winter the circulation of the sap is slowed down.

To prune an apple tree in December/January and not compromise the healingit is necessary to favor a day which benefits from a beautiful sunshine but we also choose a period during which the risks of frost are ruled out. If this is not the case, it is better to wait until the conditions are more lenient, even if it means postponing pruning for a month or two. It is indeed still possible to prune your apple trees in March, provided however that the formation of the buds is not complete.

Pruning the apple tree: the steps to follow

The first thing to do is to clearly differentiate the buds of the apple tree. The flower bud – which will therefore give an apple – is rounded in shape. As for thewood eye, it is rather oval. Both are bulging. But there are also so-called indecisive buds, of triangular shape, which are called dards, and which should not be pruned. They become either twigs if they receive little sap, or flower buds if they receive a lot. When they elongate, it is crowned darts at the end of which a knob has formed.

Once this distinction has been made, we move on to the different stages of pruning.

  • Cut:

    • the twigs at 2th eye,
    • the side branches just after the 3th bud that is turned outwards, knowing that we do not take the stings into account,

  • To delete:

    • the lengths of the main branches by shortening them but for a straight growth, we cut above an eye which points outwards,
    • the branches that grow inward,
    • intersecting branches.

  • Eliminate:

    • the mummified fruits that remained in the apple tree,
    • damaged branches,
    • diseased branches,
    • dead wood.

  • Do not prune the carpenters only at 2 eyes and only every 5 to 7 years,
  • Delete the lichen and the mosses,
  • Put lime on the trunk to eradicate unwanted insects and prevent new growth of mosses and lichens.

Of course, it is necessary to have the good tools for pruning an apple treeit should also be noted that they must all have been disinfected before and should be after pruning. As for the blades, we sharpens to get a clean cut. You must be able to have:

  • A lopper or a branch cutter: perfect for pruning damaged branches, removing dead wood, branches that grow towards the heart of the apple tree,
  • A saw: essential for cutting resistant branches,
  • A pruner: this accessory for light pruning is ideal when you have to eliminate suckers, small diameter branches, twigs and twigs.

Respect the habit of the apple tree to succeed in pruning it

You should know that on a semi-erect or erect apple tree, a thinning pruning in order to ventilate the center, and a simplification size on the oldest specimens to rearrange the arrangement of the branches.

In the case of varieties of semi-drooping and drooping apple trees, we remove the excess of branches that go towards the ground and the superimposed branches in order to aerate the crown. Finally, in old specimens, a rejuvenation is carried out to allow the fruiting branches to renew themselves more easily.

Pruning an apple tree that is relatively tall should be done safely. If you are not used to tackling this type of gardening work, it is better to entrust the task to a landscaper, specialist in tree pruning. In addition, this expert in the plant world knows perfectly all the varieties of apple trees, and knows how to adopt the type of pruning because there are indeed semi-erect, erect, semi-hanging and hanging apple trees.

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