How to prune an apple tree? Our advices !

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 to say preferably in winter when it is not freezing. It is therefore necessary on the one hand to lighten the silhouette of the tree while preserving its framework and to ensure the conservation of fruit buds. Let’s take stock of the interest of pruning an apple tree, its principle, the tools necessary 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.

Apple tree pruning: what use?

In addition to maintaining the good health of the apple tree, pruning serves to increase the strength of its skeleton. It is also welcome to allow the sap to safely feed the tallest branches and consequently to favor the growth of terminal buds. This is what we call theacrotony.

The size of the apple tree also allowsto lighten the heart of the tree. Thus, its crown will be more ventilated and will benefit from better light. This clarification also limits the occurrence of fungal diseases. The quality of the apples will therefore be optimal. Finally, let us 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 manifests itself by a strong fruiting followed, the following year, by a rarefaction, or even a total absence of fruit.

If you never prune an apple tree, you can see, for example, the dieback of the interior branches, too much load on a number of branches because of the weight of the apples and a weakening of the carpenter branches which end up breaking.

The main principles of pruning respectful of the apple tree

To properly prune an apple tree, one should neither cut too far nor too close to an eye and preferably one only attacks 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 time. You can opt for a summer size or a winter size but each of them has a very specific impact on this fruit tree, namely:

  • The summer size: it causes vegetative arrest. It is only essential if you want to remove the gourmets so that they do not turn into real wood from the end of September. It is a pruning which should be long on weak trees and short on trees of good vigor.
  • The winter pruning: the off season is preferred period to prune pome trees because their fruits develop as much on old twigs as on young ones. In addition, the leaves having all fallen, it is much easier to spot each flowering bud and each wood eye because it is fundamental to differentiate them at this crucial moment. Finally, at this time of the year, we limit the disease risks at the level of the wounds of size. This is quite logical since healing is favored due to 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 healing, it is necessary to privilege a day which benefits from beautiful sunshine but we also choose a period during which the risk of frost is eliminated. If this is not the case, it is better to wait until the conditions are more lenient, even if it means pushing back pruning for a month or two. It is indeed still possible to prune your apple trees in March, provided however that the formation of buds is not over.

Apple tree pruning: the steps to follow

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

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

  • Prune:
    • the twigs at 2th eye,
    • the side branches just after the 3th bud which is turned outwards, knowing that we do not take into account the stingers,
  • Remove:
    • the lengths of the carpenter branches by shortening them but for straight growth, we cut above an eye that points outwards,
    • branches that grow inwards,
    • the intersecting branches.
  • Eliminate:
    • the mummified fruits that remained in the apple tree,
    • damaged branches,
    • diseased branches,
    • dead wood.
  • Do not prune carpenters only 2 eyes and only every 5 to 7 years,
  • Delete the lichen and the foams,
  • Spread lime on the trunk to eradicate unwanted insects and prevent new development of mosses and lichens.

Of course, it is necessary to have good tools for pruning an apple tree, to note besides that they must all have been disinfected before and should be after pruning. As for the blades, they are sharpens in order to obtain 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,
  • Pruning shears: this accessory for light pruning is ideal when you need to remove suckers, small diameter branches, twigs and twigs.

Respect the port of the apple tree to successfully prune

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 older specimens to rearrange the arrangement of branches.

In the case of the semi-drooping and drooping apple varieties, we remove the excess of branches which go towards the ground and the superimposed branches in order to aerate the crown. Finally, in old specimens, 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 is perfectly familiar with all varieties of apple trees, and knows how to adopt the type of pruning in port because there are indeed semi-erect, erect, semi-drooping and drooping apple trees.