Best Pruning Practice In Four Cuts: Introduction

IMG_0697Why do we prune a tree?  The simplest answer is to give the tree the best chance of a long, productive life. There are, though, many reasons for pruning. For fruit, we want light and air penetrating the centre of the tree; to benefit wildlife, we may want to rebalance a tree that is no longer productive so that it remains standing; or we may just want to create an attractive shape.

Most pruning guides get very complicated very quickly.  We will show you 4 cuts and how the tree will respond to them. Each pruning cut has a specific purpose such as controlling growth, removing damaged or badly placed branches or stimulating the formation of flowers and fruits. Once you understand how a tree will react to being cut in these 4 ways, you have the tools to manage your fruit trees.  Of course, you can choose to get into the complicated stuff – but start here. Continue reading

Pruning By Numbers

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Pruning an apple tree can be a daunting prospect, but try not to give into your fear.  Planting a tree and walking away to leave it to its own devices is not advisable. Trees that are not pruned will produce less fruit over time and the branches will become congested and diseased. Pruning does not need to be complicated. Taking time to understand the theory behind it certainly helps. It’s also useful to bear in mind the number 3. You’ll be surprised how often it turns up when you are making your pruning decisions. Continue reading

Why Stake A Fruit Tree?

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Damage caused by a tie that is too tight

June is the perfect time to take a stroll around the orchard and do a bit of light maintenance while enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of early summer. Take a few minutes to check whether the stakes supporting the trees are still doing their job and loosen off any ties that are too tight.

Most fruit trees only need temporary staking for two or three years at most. The exception is trees grown on dwarf rootstock, such as M27 or M9, which have very poor anchorage and will need to be supported for their entire life. As a rule of thumb, the more vigorous the rootstock, the shorter time the tree will need staking.

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Pruning Young Trees

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Planting a cider apple and perry pear orchard at Houghton Feb 2013

Orchard Origins went back to the Houghton Project this week to prune the apple and pear trees we planted a year ago. Pruning a tree in its early years – known as formative pruning – helps it to develop a strong, basic branch structure.  As discussed in a previous post Winter or Summer Pruning, formative pruning is best done in the winter when the tree is still dormant.

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