It may seem like an odd time of year to be pruning, but this is the time you should be attending to your fruit trees. This applies to edible fruit trees as well as ornamental. Here are a few reasons why you should be pruning now.
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1 – The best time of year to prune fruit trees is in mid to late winter.
One of the most important reasons for this is that you reduce the window for diseases and insects to prey on your newly made cuts. Fresh cuts can be susceptible to fungus and bacterial infections. By pruning in the winter you limit these issues, as well as give the cuts a chance to “harden off”. When they first start growing in the spring they will scab over quickly. If you prune during the growing season the sap created may attract insects or create a sticky place for spores to land.
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2 – Determine what type of pruning your trees need.
Are they young? Then you will be pruning to encourage low branch structure, create an open canopy and planning for vigorous growth. Are the trees old? Then you may need to do a hard “rejuvenation” pruning. This is when you cut pretty far back to allow for new, healthy growth to replace old limbs. Trees require different types of pruning at different stages in their lives. Know your long term plan.
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3 – When the trees are dormant it is much easier to see inside the canopy.
Without the leaves to block your view you can see the entire canopy as a whole. Remove any broken or damaged branches. If there are two branches touching or rubbing, remove one of them. Be sure to cut as close to the branch or trunk as possible avoiding leaving stubs. Be sure to cut at an angle with sharp pruners or a saw. If you do not know how to properly prune do your research or hire a professional. Many cooperative extensions also teach pruning classes. A little research can go a long way.