East Anglian Gardens, Landscapes and Community Spaces Designed with the Future in Mind

Formative pruning (1- 4yrs old) of apple and pear trees.

IMPORTANT : Prune apples and pears (pips) after leaf fall and before bud burst (Nov-mar). Remove new water-shoots in Summer. Prune plums, cherries etc. (stones) after bud burst and before damp Autumn conditions arise (May-August).

 1year old trees (maidens),

  • Choose where you want the main branches to develop, they will remain at the height chosen as the tree grows upwards from the apical buds. The trunk does not elongate at all
  • Make sure there are 5 – 6 healthy buds below
  • Cut the stem just above the bud two up from the height you want your top framework branch to come out from the trunk.
  • Make a nick under this bud to reduce its apical dominance and so allow the other buds to form side shoots.
  • Remove the next bud down from the apical one as this will take over its role given half a chance.

 1 year old trees (feathered maidens which already have side shoots growing from the stem).

  • If the stem is already tall enough and enough side shoots are appropriately positioned these can be pruned back by two thirds to a bud facing in the appropriate direction. Try to choose a vegetative bud where the two end buds face in directions that you want branches to grow. Sometimes they will face sideways and sometimes one will face directly back into the tree, if this is the case you will just be cutting off the one that grows back into the centre of the tree the following year unless you can train it to a better position.
  • Lower shoots can be pruned back to two buds to help thicken up the stem.

 2 year old trees.

  • Remove any dead, diseased or damaged shoots (DDD)
  • In the centre of the tree there will be a dead snag or stunted leader and this should be removed.
  • Select the best 3-5 side shoots to keep as framework branches (leaders), if there are enough. These should be around the stem at all angles when viewed from above and should, if possible, be spread up the stem rather than being very close together vertically.
  • If the leaders are too upright, tie down to tree guard, pegs or weights with degradable garden twine (not to the tree) or spread with toothpicks or spreaders or tuck under another branch.
  • Cut the lower side shoots that aren’t going to be wanted as branches back to the main stem.
  • Prune the side shoots selected as framework branches (leaders) to just above a vegetative bud facing in the direction you want it to grow (see 1 yr. old feathered maidens).

Three year old trees.

  •  Remove any dead, diseased or damaged shoots (DDD).
  • If the leaders are too upright, tie down to tree guard, pegs or weights with degradable garden twine (not to the tree) or spread with toothpicks or spreaders or tuck under another branch.
  • Remove congesting shoots which grow inwards, crossing shoots which will rub and crowding shoots which will be too close together, branches should be roughly 45cm apart (CCC).
  • There should now be 3-5 branches forked at the ends and with some side shoots along them.
  • Selectively prune the new leading shoots back by half to a third, depending on vigour and tree balance, to a bud facing in the right direction (see 1 yr. old feathered maidens).
  • Select some good well-spaced laterals to fill the framework and shorten these by a third to a half to vegetative buds at the right place along the shoot and facing in the right direction for it to fill the framework.
  • On spur bearers, prune any remaining laterals over 30cm long to 3-6 buds to form fruiting spurs, prune to 3 on weaker growth and to 6 where growth is good.
  • On tip bearers prune any remaining laterals over 30 cm long in order to stimulate the production of more short shoots the following year. Prune weaker shoots by about a half and stronger shoots to a third. Leave any maiden shoots less than 20cm.

 Four year old trees.

  •  Remove any dead, diseased or damaged shoots (DDD).
  • If the leaders are too upright, tie down to tree guard, pegs or weights with degradable garden twine (not to the tree) or spread with toothpicks or spreaders or tuck under another branch.
  • Remove congesting shoots which grow inwards, crossing shoots which will rub and crowding shoots which will be too close together, branches should be roughly 45cm apart (CCC).
  • Shorten selected branch leaders by a third to quarter of previous year’s growth depending on vigour and balance
  • If tree is a spur bearer, or partial tip bearer, prune strong 2nd year laterals, which are not required to extend the framework, to a fruiting bud leaving 4-6 fruiting buds. Prune weaker laterals to 2-3 fruiting buds. Leave all maiden pencil thick laterals unless badly placed.
  • If the tree is a tip bearer leave the maiden shoots less than 20cms. The maiden shoots that are longer than this can be headed back to 4-5 buds. These buds will then develop shoots the following summer and become fruitful the summer after that.

 

 

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