Get the most from your backyard orchard. Prune fruit trees
to keep them producing. Shape trees and prevent fruit loss by timely pruning and fruit-thinning. Most fruit trees don’t need pruning annually once they have been trained. Initial fruit tree pruning is important to help young trees produce thick stems and open canopies where light and air can enter and promote flowering, as well as reduce fungal and bacterial diseases. The best time for pruning fruit trees is at planting and, in subsequent years, in early spring before buds break and trees
are still dormant. Pruning should be undertaken at planting time where you cut the new stem off 24 to 30 inches from the ground and remove any side shoots. This causes the new tree to grow low branches and balances growth and the root system to keep the plant from getting top heavy during establishment.
You can’t expect much fruiting the first two to three years as the plant develops low branches for better fruiting. This training for young trees can take many forms, but the most common is central leader training. This type of training gives the tree a strong trunk and laterally branching stems that start about 30 inches from the ground. The scaffold is formed by selecting a scaffold whorl, four to five balanced branches, which will form the base form of the tree.
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