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Pruning apples

I BELIEVE it's best to prune fruit trees in winter when they are dormant, but I have some dwarf apples that I'd like to remove the lower branches from. Can I do it before next winter? I also have a magnificent espaliered apple tree that hasn't been pruned for about five years. Can you give me some tips about removing the many long shoots that have developed?

 

GO ahead and prune the lower branches off your dwarf apple trees, but do it during dry sunny weather so the wound seals over as quickly as possible to avoid the risk of disease entering through the wounds. And to make doubly sure, you could apply a pruning paint like Bacseal Super to the cuts.

Espaliered fruit trees need regular pruning to keep them looking their best and for good yields of fruit. In my experience it's best to do both winter and summer pruning to direct growth into the areas where you want it. As your espalier has been left to its own devices for years, I'd start right away by cutting back all the long leggy shoots to within three or four leaves of the main leaders (the branches tied to the supporting frame). Later in summer, to prevent growth becoming too rampant, trim back any fresh long shoots to within a few leaves of the leaders and don't be afraid to cut some out altogether if they're becoming crowded. Also regularly check the ties holding the leaders to the supports as they may need to be loosened to avoid strangling as the branch swells with age, or retying.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 186, 2005, Page 33

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener


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