Pruning a tree, what is it and what is its purpose? It is the act of cutting a limb from a tree that is not needed. There are several reason for doing this. I will try to list as many as I can, then discuss a few of the more important ones that we use more often on the farm. Pruning can be done for any or all of these reasons. Sick branches, airflow, too many in one area, height, rubbing, unneeded growth, too much fruit, spoiled fruit, bugs/parasites.
The one we use most often are “too many”, “airflow’, and “sick branches.” First we will start with too many and how this applies to apples and pears. Most pears have a tendency to want to grow straight up. Sometimes you will get one branch growing just above another one, sometimes within 6 inches. If they are this close and are heading the same direction I will prune it. This will give the one below it more energy, better air flow and will keep them from damaging one another.
Airflow is a very important aspect of pruning. This basically means allowing the wind to easily get through the tree. It will prevent limbs from breaking, the build up of moisture, and allow for more sunshine to hit the leaves and fruit. This helps to inhibit blight buildup as well. Notice on the example how there is very little airflow on the incorrectly pruned tree.
Sick branches. Unfortunately on pears and apples we get things like fire blight. This is something that spreads easily and rapidly. If this is on your tree it may be best to cut it out and dispose of it far from the growing zone.
Dont forget…if you’re up for a visit I love giving tours of our orchards and the opportunity to teach others how to be successful with their trees. I will be pruning trees in late fall and will be doing a small course. If your up for it please tell me at the market and I will start firming up some dates.
Thanks for listening and “That’s all folks!”