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How Summer Pruning Brings out the Best in Your Fruit Trees

Summertime is the perfect time to do some pruning on your fruit trees and give them the attention they need.

summer pruning

Who Do Summer Pruning?

When you prune trees like apple and pear trees in summertime, you allow in more sunlight and also let some air in to reach your fruit. This helps fruit to grow larger and have more flavour and colour. It also allows the tree and its fruit to better protect against pests and disease.

When you perform some summer pruning, you are protecting your crop for the coming year. Getting rid of the shoots from the current year’s growth helps the tree make more fruiting spurs, which leads to a better and bigger harvest the following year.

What Trees Should Be Pruned

You can prune your apple and pear trees to form them into shapes like fans, espaliers and cordons. You are not as likely to get these shapes if you prune in the winter.

What Is the Best Time to Prune?

If you are pruning apples, you can do so from mid-August to late in the month. For pears, you should prune around mid-July. If you live somewhere north of the UK, then you want to add about another 10 days before you begin your pruning.

The region you are in, the weather for that area and how the tree is growing all factor into when the best time would be to prune. If you don’t know when to prune this year, then look at the new shoots that are forming.

When the tree is ready for a pruning, its shoots will have some dark green leaves known as adult leaves. Trees that are not ready to be pruned will have smaller, lighter-hued leaves. They will also have some leaves in clusters near the base. The shoots’ lower parts, where they connect to the trunk, will be woody and stiff. For larger trees it would be wise to seek a local arborist or tree surgeon to assist with the prune.

What Needs to Be Done to Prune Properly?

You want to cut any shoots that have grown more than 20cm. Make them about 7.5cm and cut above where the leaf or bud is. This should leave you with a stub that has two or three remaining buds. If the new shoots are less than 20cm, then you can ignore those since they will have fruit buds.

You will want to get rid of any water shoots as well. These shoots grow out from the primary branches and are created after you do some hard pruning in the winter. These shoots take a lot of energy from your tree, and you will only want to keep them if you like the way they shape the tree or if you want to replace a damaged one.

You may see some secondary growth once summer pruning is through, and you can remove that in September. This may not help at times, and it may be necessary to leave some of the shoots and allow them to grow a bit longer. These will grow while any secondary growth will be stifled.

Fruit tree pruning is ideal for summer days, and if you do it properly, you can enjoy a bigger, more bountiful crop of pears and apples.

james frazerBased in Cardiff, James Frazer is a keen gardener, primarily interested in fruit trees and bushes.