To Prune or Not To Prune

garyt33(5/6)July 6, 2013

This is my largest tree, a Mac. This past winter I gave it a heavy pruning in the hopes of not doing any additional pruning during the summer. Now it looks like it has an afro! IâÂÂm concerned that the fruit wonâÂÂt receive enough sun but I have read in this forum that each fruit requires a certain amount of leaves for a decent sugar content. Should I open it up or leave it alone? After no fruit last year due to the weather I donâÂÂt want to blow it.

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franktank232(z5 WI)

I gave my Mac a pretty heavy haircut...thinned it a lot to open up the middle to sunlight. I have no idea what i'm doing when it comes to apples/pruning so i just did what i thought "felt" right! Your tree is huge! That must be 10+ years old? This winter i'd like to cut mine way back and graft a number of different varieties to it in the spring.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 9:17PM
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You were close, the tree is about 12 years old. The center is open but it doesn't show due to the over growth.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 10:29PM
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It sounds like you need to do more thinning cuts and fewer heading cuts.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 11:56PM
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I would go back in right away and cut a lot of that lush, excess growth out. I'd concentrate on taking out pencil-sized branches that point into the tree, down to the ground, or up into the air. Leave nicely placed horizontal pencils as these will spur up and begin bearing in another year or two. The other pencils will also become bearing wood, and the tree will be overloaded with small, crowded fruit. Nothing will get enough light, especially in the interior and lower parts of the tree, and quality will suffer. The tree becomes impossible to spray thoroughly and thinning is a nightmare. The interior and lower parts of the tree will lose their bearing ability as declining pencils are not replaced, and new bearing wood will form higher and further out, making management and harvest difficult.

Summer pruning will reduce the stored sugars in the tree and result in less vigorous growth next year. Murky points out that you need more thinning and fewer heading cuts. Heading cuts encourage bushiness.

Anyhow, those are my best thoughts on a subject I'm very much struggling to master- others may improve on or contradict them. I constantly argue with my Liberty!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 8:11AM
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alan haigh

I believe that it is always safe to remove water sprouts connected to big wood. Shoots that are near fruit feed it but those connected directly to scaffold branches likely feed mostly themselves and wood and root below them.

Too much summer pruning can reduce the quality of the fruit but you can probably take off most of those water sprouts and actually improve fruit quality by getting light to the leaves that feed the fruit.

Anyway, I do that kind of pruning all summer long on hundreds of bearing apple trees, starting in Mid-July. By then you don't get too much regrowth. Really go after the water sprouts in the center of the tree.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 8:19AM
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Thanks for the advise. It really has become a mess. I cringe every time I look at it. Looks like we are headed for a great harvest this year.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 8:58AM
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alan haigh

The tree will look much better after you've taken out a bunch of the rank growth and the apples will likely color better also. Just gotta get cooler evenings in early Sept.- Macintosh needs that.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 11:42AM
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It was hot but its done! Thanks again

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 3:58PM
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