Why prune an apple tree?

Left to its own devises a tree will grow. Of course it will. However, pruning an apple tree well is one way of supporting it into old age.

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By keeping a check on badly placed, overcrowded, crossing, weak and inward facing branches a tree will stand a better chance of a long life. An apple tree can start showing veteran features as early as fifty years into its life and thus a well-managed traditional orchard has the potential to be a haven for wildlife.

We are keen to point out to the orchard owners we work with that we manage orchards to achieve standing deadwood. Once there is dead wood, their orchard becomes alive with invertebrates, birds, mammals, fungi, lichen and mosses. Therefore, a sensible pruning regime is a great way to look after your trees and here are just a few of our top tips:

• Prune in the winter to create a strong framework of branches on young trees and promote vegetative growth on all trees.

• Prune to downward, outward facing buds when encouraging growth in young trees.

• Prune in the summer to restrict growth and keep water shoots in check.

• Limit your pruning to a quarter of the canopy in any year.

• When removing an entire branch, do so at the branch collar.

We are available for talks and run practical training days on best pruning practices. Our next day course is on 4th July, where we will demonstrate the above principles and share further insight in to best pruning practices. All our future courses can be viewed at http://www.herefordshirewt.org/whats-on
If you would like to join us contact orchards@herefordshirewt.co.uk

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6 thoughts on “Why prune an apple tree?

  1. I have read with interest your information regarding pruning, Acouple of years ago there was an interesting letter in the Hereford Times By Chris Fairs, who had worked in standard orchard the best part of his life. The bases of the letter was and STILL is, that mistletoe is killig trees and within 10 -16 years there willBE NO STANDARD ORCHARDS IN HEREFRDSHIRE – due to this parasite. I have a number of standard orchards which are dying each year. The cutting out of bunches is useless as it rapidly grows back in my experience. Last autumn I got some one to almost pollard the stendard trees, some of , back to what we hoped was a growing bud. A number of them have grown-What next? There are huge number of bush trees in the county planted by growers under contract, to cider makers ,in the last 40 years. Many of this are also infested, and the cost of cutting it out is enormous.
    Is there now no research station in existence in this country Who has any interest in the mammoth problem. ? I cannot find one who can say anything but ‘ cut it out’ or its a marvellous plant and very difficult to grow. – including the RHS.

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