Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why Prune?

Have you ever wondered -- why should I pay someone to prune my fruit trees?  Don't they just... grow?

Yes, they grow.  Boy howdy do they grow.  Too much.  If left to itself, a fruit tree will grow upward like mad and you'll end up with a crowded tangle of a tree that will give you small, bland fruit, if it gives any fruit at all.

In order to grow into a strong tree that produces large, sweet fruit, all fruit trees need proper training.  Training is the multi-year process of shaping a young tree through selective pruning cuts and directing branches to grow in the desired direction through spreading or staking.

A properly trained tree will have sturdy, widely angled branches that will not split or break under the weight of a heavy fruit crop, and it will be shaped according to the specific variety of fruit tree to maximize light penetration for fruit production.

After training, some trees such as apricots, pears, apples, and plums need only light maintenance pruning to take out old unproductive wood, branches that interfere with the proper shape of the tree, and damaged or diseased wood.  Peach trees need a yearly hard pruning to promote growth of new productive wood.  A peach tree that is left un-pruned will slow its growth and stop producing fruit after a few years.

Below is a young peach tree before and after its annual pruning.
Courtesy of

It seems extreme to the untrained eye, but this is an example of how hard a young peach tree needs to be cut back in the spring to stimulate growth of new productive wood.

Below is an apple tree, still in the training stage, before and after pruning:

Courtesy of

 If a fruit tree is not trained into a healthy form, this is what you'll end up with :

(Courtesy of

There are trees that require very little care to look good.  Those trees are not fruit trees.  If you're planning to invest time and money in a fruit tree, why not complete the process by giving the tree proper training and pruning.  You can take a class or buy some books and train yourself or hire a skilled fruit tree specialist to train and prune your trees.  They will repay you many times over in sweet, luscious fruit.


  1. Ouch! That thing looks like it got destroyed by the storm, I hope that it made a recovery, because it was ready for a nice pruning.

    -Samudaworth Tree Service

  2. Very informative post.
    The pains of discipline today are worth the fruits of victory tomorrow.