Pruning fruit trees

The purpose of pruning of branches on fruit trees is to create a strong structure that can withstand wind without breaking, carry heavy crops of fruit and be harvested from easily, as the tree is not too large.
Most fruit trees are best pruned in late winter, early spring. This is because:
• You want to prune the branches before sap starts running in them.
• The cut areas are less susceptible to insect infestation in the early spring.
• Without leaves and blossoms, you can see easily see the shape of the tree.
• The direction of the tree needs to be set before starting its growth spurt.

Three different tools come in handy when pruning fruit trees:
• A hand or chainsaw is used to cut the big branches that should have been pruned a few years ago. Be careful when using a chainsaw that you don’t nick the good branches.
• A set of large pruning shears is used to cut branches that are bigger than the size of your little finger.
• A little pair of clippers is used to trim all the small stuff. They are easy to handle and can get into tight areas.

There are some general principles in pruning fruit trees:
• Inspect the tree for dead, diseased and damaged branches and remove them.
• Also remove any branches that are weak, cross each other, grow downward or have narrow crotches.
• Clip away any suckers growing from the lower portion of the trunk or up from the roots. These are the little shoots that spring up from the roots of the plant.
• Make all the cuts flush with the main branch without damaging the bark.
• When pruning fruit trees, keep walking around the tree and look at the tree from a different perspective. The tree should look balanced from every angle.
• Generally the angle created by the limbs should resemble the hands of a clock at 10 o’clock or at 2 o’clock.
• Always prune back to buds aimed in the direction in which you want the limb to grow.
However, different varieties of fruit trees have different requirements.

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