Pruning my Crabapple

dublinbay z6 (KS)April 7, 2014

I posted this query on the Tree Forum before I realized their was a fruit tree forum--so I'm reposting it here. Hopefully some crabapple experts hang out here and can answer my question.

I have a crabapple that is about 8-9 years old. The branches are rather low--can't walk under the tree and I'm short. I'd like to prune off the three lowest branches back to the main trunk -- to raise up the branch level on the tree.
My question: Is there a best time of the year to do this --other than wintertime since I don't want to wait until next winter? A worst time of the year to do it?

I'm assuming spring is not one of the best times to do it, but then hot summer probably isn't good either. Should I wait for cooler autumn or is it all right to do the pruning now?

As to the kind of crabapple. I hope it doesn't make a difference because I can't remember what kind it is--except it was one of the better ones for my area (Zone 6 Kansas). I remember researching a lot to find the best kind--just don't remember what that turned out to be.


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Late winter/early spring is the best time. That's what it is around here right now (zone 3) so I just pruned all my fruit trees this past week now that the snow is mostly gone and the buds haven't yet swelled. I take it you are further along in the season, but you can't be leaps and bounds ahead so I think you would still be near the best time. Late fall would be the worst time since the trees would be going into winter with fresh injuries from the cuts and that could be kind of tough on them.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 11:32PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Yes, now it's good, ..cuts can heal in faster now when growing.
Cut branches as close as you can on the trunk, you might need to cut some other branches out to get good light in, [you get tastier apples].. and might need to shorten some branches/ends a little.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 12:10AM
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alan haigh

The tree folks will warn you about flush cuts, although crabapples are strong trees and usually heal their wounds well no matter how you make the cuts or when. Still I would leave a bit of a swell from the trunk so as not to violate the branch collar (google Alex Shigo, branch collar for details).

If you wait until the trees have been in leaf a couple weeks (and have built up their reserves a bit) it will be less stressful, supposedly, than pruning during first growth, but a vigorous, mature crabapple should rebound pretty much whenever you prune it none the worse for wear. They heal even better than a healthy apple tree.

I'm guessing the serious folks like Brandon would give you much the same info at the tree site.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 5:37AM
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