Summer Pruning

mrsg47(7)June 22, 2012

My Cherry, three apples, apricot and Italian plum are going wild with new growth this summer. I have close to three feet of new branch on my plum alone! Mild winter and spring? All of these trees have set fruit. A lot to a minimum. I do not mind 'stunting' the growth of these trees, but I do mind summer pruning if it will delay more blossoms for next spring. Advice would be welcome. I really want more blossoms and less height. OR is Feb. pruning is the month to wait and prune? Would summer pruning hurt the current crops on the trees?

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Subject to correction by the more experienced:

Prune all three trees to remove branches that point right up or down off of the scaffolds, and remove inward pointing growth.

On the apple keep well placed pencils (horizontals off of the scaffold branches that should be your fruit bearing wood) but do not head them back. Poorly placed and overly spindly pencils should be removed, unless they will be needed to replace mature pencils in the next year or two.

The plum will forgive you almost anything if it's on its own root, so just keep it open and pretty and leave enough new growth to bear next year. I'd head back the excessive growth to keep it manageable.

I'd be more cautious with the apricot; even though I've had beautiful crops of apricots I've managed to kill several, and I'm not sure to what extent vigorous summer pruning contributed.

I've never had a cherry.

Be interested to read corrections. The only thing I'm positive about is that I've never had a cherry and that I'm not sure what I did to my apricots!


:-) Mark

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 7:09AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Heres a few minor additions to Mark's good advice. Vigorous plums tend to produce far too many big shoots going straight up; thin out nearly all of those. It can be hard to get plums to grow good angled branches; keep a look-out for long shoots that are not going straight up, keep those long for future branching structure. Long shoots weigh themselves down and make good angles, but if you prune them the weight of the shoot will be less and it will start going straight up again. So, don't just head all shoots - its a combo of some heading, some thinning, and some leaving alone for future branching.

Cherries also produce too many shoots at the top, not as bad as plums but thin out some and head the others. Like Mark states, keep the center clear on all the stone fruits.

I just pruned out most of my Tomcot yesterday, it was getting too tall so I took off the upper half which had most of the leaves. I have done severe apricot pruning many times before and not had any problem.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 10:40AM
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I need to prune some of my stone fruits that are getting too tall, but I'm caught between two conflicting theories.

One - cut back the overtall branches after the fruit is harvested - which is in many cases now. But then the highest branches that I want to keep will be the target of the Japanese beetles, also here now.

Two - because the Japanese beetles will head straight for the highest brances, wait while they ravage these, then cut them back.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 1:23PM
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Thanks Mark and Scott! Will my pruning hurt the current crops? Will the pruning create fruiting spurs for next year, or make the current fruiting spurs larger? Thanks Mrs. G

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 9:13PM
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alan haigh

Heading cuts on scaffolds discourage fruiting and are only used when you absolutely need to get more secondary branching off your scaffolds or to stiffen branches. Better to cut back to a small branch when there's one pointing outward as the tip of that branch will send back a hormonal signal that says "all's well", stopping a vegetative panic at point of cut.

J. plums often send out long scaffolds without much secondary branching, so it creates a bit of a dilema as to whether to use heading cuts. I will use uprights to create secondary branches by taping or tying them to a horizontal position or pushing them under other branches. It helps to have extra scaffolds on young trees for this, to be removed as tree develops.

Cherries often require scaffold heading to get those smaller branches where you will get your fruit. For this you head a scaffold than head back all but the straightest shoot that arise at the cut. Let that straight shoot lead the branch and head again when you need more secondary branches. Do this as many times during the season as the growth permits.

Summer pruning of young trees not yet of adequate stature should be done mostly with your fingers (beginning in spring) and almost all pruning is dwarfing, but summer more so. Those uprights do feed your wood (including the roots) and increase the size of the tree as long as they are in place and in leaf, so keep that in mind.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 6:26AM
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Harvestman! Thanks. I think I will attach some photos of Italian Plum/Prune and Apricot. The plum has set fruit this summer and has fruiting spurs that are increasing. I have three books on pruning and take them out to the orchard with me as I work. I am such a reluctant pruner. You would probably hack half of my orchard away. I will try my best to follow instruction and get it right. Thanks again as always. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 11:59AM
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