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Pruning Apple Trees

Commercial growers prune their apple orchard during the winter months. Farmers have more time on their hands in the winter, and the absence of leaves makes pruning an apple tree and other fruit trees easier. You can however, prune apple trees in the spring, before the flowers bloom. Pruning apples trees is essential to the health of the tree, to maximize the size of the apples, and to make picking easier. Too many apples on the tree results in plentiful, but smaller fruit.

For home gardeners, it is best to prune and trim apple trees, anytime after harvest, and into the fall to late winter. You can prune them any time before blooming. After blooming begins, you risk knocking apples off the tree, reducing your harvest.

Prune off suckers and small branches, especially those that grow straight up from major branches. It is best to trim the tree so that major branches arch up away from the trunk. These branches will eventually droop downward. Top off the center (trunk) of the tree , to limit the overall height of the tree. Also, remove some branches where the tree has grown too thick You want to leave plenty of room for the apples to grow, allow air circulation, and light to penetrate to the leaves. It also allows for more effective spraying of insecticides and fungicides.

Pruning is an annual event. Schedule it for early in the season, before your gardening chores get into full gear. Or, pick a sunny winter day and go out and do some gardening!

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