Have an old mixed fruit orchard that needs pruning help
So a couple years ago we moved out into the country. When we were looking, we were planning on planting in several fruit trees in the first couple years, have a small orchard.
Well, the property we ended up choosing already had a small orchard- one that hadn't been pruned in probably 4 or more years. We were pretty unprepared for how to manage this, and with a lot of other things that needed more attention, this is our third summer here, and I haven't touched the orchard yet.
So I need some guidance. I've read a lot of stuff about how to keep up fruit trees, but haven't really found a lot on how to take an old orchard and trim them up well. All the trees seem so different.. I'm not even positive when I should be trimming them.
We have 3 cherries that are really tall and bushy- can I prune them down shorter a bit, and how?
We have a pear and something we aren't sure what it is yet because this is the first year we have seen it bloom- they are growing really upright with their branches, sort of like when a tree is bundled- but they aren't bundled. Some branches are starting to cross each other. Is that a problem, if so, how do I fix that?
We have a rather old peach tree that is about a third dead. About a third is just leafing, and the fruiting third does not have a lot of fruit on it- can this tree be saved with good pruning, or no?
We have three apple trees that have some branch tangling because they were originally planted a little close together. How do I figure out which branches to choose to prune out?
The trees are kind of planted in an oval, and really all around, the trees are touching each other quite a bit, but only the apples are kind of tangled.
And what is the healthiest way to treat a pruning spot? Right now this orchard has not been treated with anything in at least 5 years, I'd like to keep it chemical free if possible.
If anyone could tell me if this is true or not I'd appreciate it. One of the older locals told me if I took the pitch off my pines while it was soft and boiled it in water to make a heavy wash, that made the best sealant for any tree trimming.
And is it true that you can trim suckers at any time? I mean those little shoots at the base of the tree or around branches that grow straight up. I've been told yes you can and no you shouldn't.
I know it's a lot of questions. Any advice would be appreciated.