Feb 23, 2018

Pruning and Care of Fruit Trees

The weather is changing – now is the time to start pruning! Pruning is important for the overall health of your trees and shrubs. Read on to find out the best way to care and prune your fruit trees to ensure a bountiful harvest!

Fruit Tree Planting
All trees should be planted in full sun, in well-drained soil, using good, organic compost. Be sure to plant based on the growth needs of each tree. Fruit trees must be pollinated to produce fruit so you should be aware of whether your variety is self-pollinating or not. If not, you will need to plant more than one tree.

Feed your Trees
Fertilize the first year with one cup of organic fruit tree fertilizer four times in April, May, June and July. The second year, use two cups in March, May and early June. The third year, apply one pound of fertilizer the last week in February and the last week in May. Now that the tree is mature, you can fertilize with four pounds of fertilizer the last week of February.

Protect your Trees
Spray with a horticultural oil in late March/early April right before bud break. Then, spray every four to six weeks after with Organic Bonide Orchard Spray. The active ingredients in this spray are pyrethrins made from chrysanthemums. They act as an insecticide and the sulfur in them acts as a fungicide to control rust, mildew and fruit rot.

You should prune your fruit trees for two reasons: 1) Pruning young trees encourages a strong framework and 2) pruning mature trees helps maintain shape and encourage fruit production. The best time to prune is late winter or early spring before any new growth starts. The only pruning that should be done during the summer is to remove suckers. You should also remove any broken or diseased limbs. You should thin the new growth out enough to allow light in so that new fruit can ripen. 

pruning diagram

Training the central leader produces a tree with a pyramid shape. This will take a period of two years. This shape is best to allow fruit to ripen. Remember, all of these trees fruit and flower on old wood, so trim back new growth to direct energy into old wood.