Apple Tree Pruning Time in Ireland


 




November to February is apple-tree pruning time; it can be carried out right throughout this time if not already done.
Pruning these orchard apple trees improves the quality and size of the fruit borne whilst keeping the trees themselves to a manageable size.

I could fill a book with the various forms of apple pruning techniques; but today let me provide you with an essential overview of pruning the pomme tree from a two-year-old planting upwards. Depending on the thickness of stems to be pruned you will need a hand pruners (secateurs), long handled pruners (loppers) and a small handsaw. Ensure all these tools are sharp to allow you to make clean cuts with no snags.

Initial year pruning.

The first thing I always do when beginning apple tree pruning is to remove all the dead, diseased and crossing (rubbing) branches. Like a detective working through a process of elimination, I next turn my attention to the trees side growths. Cut back all these side growths or laterals from the main upright stems by half. Cut to an outward facing bud, maintaining the correct growth habit. Finally, cut back vigorous upward shoots (also known as leaders) by half.

Second year pruning.

Cut back all side growths or laterals that are growing on the outer edges of the tree by half. Cut back laterals within the body of the tree to within four buds of the main stems. Cut back vigorous upward shoots or leaders by half.

Third year pruning.

Leave all side growths or laterals that are growing on the outer edges of the tree unpruned. Cut back laterals within the body of the tree to within four buds of the main stems. Cut back vigorous upward shoots or leaders by half.

Fourth year pruning onwards.

Leave all side growths or laterals that are growing on the outer edges of the tree unpruned, only cut these back if they are causing an obstruction (paths etc). Cut back laterals within the body of the tree to within four buds of the main stems. The reason why we cut the side shoots to within four buds of the main stems is to produce spurs. Spurs are side shoots, which end in flower buds; these flower buds produce our fruit. Leave the vigorous upward leaders unpruned; only cut these back if they are causing an obstruction (wires etc).
When carrying out all pruning you must remove from the site any dead or diseased wood, also burn all seemingly normal clippings to prevent the spread of unsightly apple scab (the fungus Venturia inaequalis).

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