Pruning apple and pear trees

It’s the thing I love about the changing seasons ….

Goodbye apples 🍏👋 Hello citrus 🍋🍊 

I love the way nature provides a variety of produce all year round. Just when you’re getting sick of one thing … the next thing starts cropping.

Apparently eating with the seasons is supposed to be good for you as the body naturally craves what it needs. As we enter winter here in Australia our range of citrus become available full of Vitamin C to ward off coughs and colds.

This marks the end of my apple season with the last of my Granny Smiths harvested now. So it’s time to prune the apple trees and then focus on citrus.

It’s taken me years to really feel confident at pruning my fruit trees and I’m still not great at it. 😜 But I do at least manage to get some fruit from them. This is my apple tree just before I prune it. It’s about 15 years old now.

My unpruned apple tree

Here’s a few points I’ve learnt along the way.

Early Years

1. Pruning a fruit tree starts when you first buy it and plant it. Select your first limbs to become the main branches of the tree.
2. Shape the tree into an open vase to allow light and air circulation around it.
3. Snip back the growing tips lightly.

Prune to develop an open vase shape

Established trees

1. Remove dead stems and branches
2. Remove any crossing limbs and branches
3. Remove anything growing towards the centre to maintain the open vase shape.
4. Keep only the main branches and work your way along these to find fruiting spurs. Some trees have these along the stems, others have them at the end.
5. Remove anything that isn’t a fruiting spur along the branch.
6. Shorten the main branches to keep the tree smaller and manageable for netting. Trim them back to 2 or 3 fruiting spurs.
7. Remove everything else.

Can you identify the fruiting spurs on these limbs?

Now all I need to do is decide whether I’m going to have apple pie or apple crumble …… oh heck, let’s have both!!

Will it be apple pie or apple crumble?