How soon can I start summer pruning?

bart1(6/7 Northern VA)May 30, 2014

I'd like to start summer pruning as soon as possible but I want to make sure I don't do more harm than good by starting too early.

For the Mid-Atlantic region is there a "safe" date to start summer pruning that is early but not too early?


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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

There is no safe date. As long as you don't have more fruit on the tree than the remaining leaves can support there's no reason not to start as needed. I start soon after I finish thinning. In my greenhouse that means April. I've already tipped and pruned numerous times this yr.

Better a little at a time. That way you won't sunburn anything. Opening up the canopy would reduce disease pressure if that's an issue. So that's a plus not something to require a safe date.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Fri, May 30, 14 at 9:50

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 9:48AM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Thanks FN!

After the winter we had and the very late frost/freezes, too much fruit per tree is NOT an issue!!! I'm not even sure if I'll have to do any actually thinning!

Because of my lack of fruit issue, most of my pruing will be just about shaping the trees for the future.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 10:15AM
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Thanks for bringing this topic up about pruning. I pruned my stone fruits in the spring and have added spreader weights to create the proper form only to find that there are many new shoots headed into the center of the vase and down under the limbs. I find myself rubbing out the new shoots, I figure that they will eventually get pruned anyway so why let the tree waste energy on them. Is this ok, or am I going to cause problems for the trees?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 10:15AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Greg: I say you're spot on. I do the same, whatever needed whenever I see the need to shape the tree and hold down size.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 10:34AM
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alan haigh

Pinching to guide growth is the most efficient way to direct it and the sooner you pinch unneeded shoots the more efficient it is. If the tree has ample shoots to harvest light throughout the tree there is no way this should hurt a healthy tree.

I prune this way throughout the growing season- especially with plums and peaches when they are young and in need of continuous guidance for best results. It is especially important if you use the strategy of starting open center trees as central leaders, as I do. Takes extra pruning up high to keep enough light on lowest scaffolds, particularly the ones that will become permanent.

Pinching back oversized laterals (secondary wood) is also a good way sustain dominance of the central leader of scaffold branches and helps enforce development of secondary and tertiary wood. This is especially true with J. plums where you might pinch back the leader of a scaffold then use subsequent pinching to develop a new leader and secondary wood at point of previous pinch. J. plums often are reluctant to develop secondary wood off of scaffolds when left to their own whim.

It is pretty hard to unintentionally kill a healthy tree by over pruning. I find excessive dormant pruning to be most likely way to cause sunburn. Once the leaves are fully formed they pull a lot of sap, helping to keep the cambium cool (my theory, anyway).

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 11:46AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Its best to view pruning as a continual process. I am always carrying my pruners and folding saw when I am in my orchard, along with a spool of training twine. This time of year I am mainly correcting pruning mistakes I made in the winter as well as rubbing off shoots coming out of places I don't want. Some trees also had too many shoots coming out and those got thinned. Basically any time I am looking at a part of a tree and it looks too dense I fix it.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 12:26PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I took off some large branches on my pluots (4 in 1)...some of the varieties take over the whole tree, so it was time to cut back. I've been pruning for a few weeks.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 1:07PM
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We had a discussion here a year or two ago and somebody said that summer pruning before too late (the solstice? encourages spur formation on pomes, if I recall correctly, but I'm too uncertain to state it as true. Maybe worth talking about.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 7:39PM
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