Winter presents one of the best times to prune your deciduous (all leaves drop from the tree) fruit tree(s). The deep cold temperatures lull deciduous trees into a dormant ("sleeping") phase making them less likely to experience "shock" from the cut. The sap will run slowly, if at all.
But, if you're new to pruning deciduous fruit trees, the task might feel intimidating. The last thing anyone wants to do is inflict harm on the tree(s) we've worked so hard to grow. Right? But, take heart! Giving your trees a healthy pruning is simple when you know to look for these 5 key branch conditions: (Tip: Wait until all the leaves have dropped off your tree so you can get a good look at the tree's whole structure.)
1. Prune away dead, damaged or diseased limbs.
2. Prune away branches that cross through the center of the canopy. (Opening up the center of the canopy enables light in and air to circulate.)
3. Remove branches that rub against one another
4. Prune away sucker branches growing straight up or down.
5. Prune off sucker branches or sucker roots (water shoots) at the base of the trunk.
That's all I'm going to do to this tree until after the blossoms drop off in spring. Then I'll look again for any damaged limbs or thin the branches if they are crowding. In the summer, I'll prune away heavy leafy vegetation to make room for fruit.
A gentle pruning will help your trees to thrive. They will do better with a little pruning rather than none at all. Most trees are quite resilient, so don't be afraid to tackle this task this winter.
As always, I love hearing from you. So, please send over your questions or comments.