Pruning a Fruit Tree

Category Fruit Trees
Knowing how and when to prune a fruit tree is critical to ensuring a healthy tree that produces a bountiful crop of delicious fruit. This is a page about pruning a fruit tree.


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If you have a heavily overgrown tree, spread the pruning process over a period of three years. Removing too many branches at once will result in an unproductive tangle of suckers and water sprouts. Follow the rule of thumb that you can remove a third of the live wood each year.

First, cut out and burn all dead, damaged, diseased, and insect-infected branches. Then gradually thin the healthy wood, removing all vertical growth-like water sprouts, branches that grow toward the center of the tree, and branches with weak, narrow crotch angles (less than 35%). Encourage horizontal branches, since they are the most fruitful, and prune more heavily in the top of the tree so that sunlight reaches the lower limbs.


Source: Rodale's Book Of Hints, Tips, and Everyday Wisdom

By one.of.a.kind from AL

Comment Was this helpful? 1

January 12, 2004

Productive fruit trees with an abundance of high quality fruit don't just happen. They result from good cultural practices, including pruning. Pruning is often neglected either due to a lack of pruning skills and knowledge or a fear that one is going to injure or kill the tree.

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Published by: Nebraska Cooperative Extension

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When is the best time to prune fruit trees?

By Jess from Hillsboro, OR


May 19, 20110 found this helpful

This really depends on the type of tree.

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August 10, 2009

We have an apple tree that every year sends out long thin branches from the end of each limb. We tried pruning them, but then had very few apples. What's the problem?


Hardiness Zone: 2a

By Alma Barkman from Winnipeg


August 11, 20090 found this helpful

Is it self pollinating? Do you have another apple tree? How old is it?

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March 28, 2016

This is a page about pruning cherry trees. Pruning your fruit trees is important for their health and fruit production.

Man holding pruning sheers surrounded by cherry trees in bloom

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