For those gardeners who are beginning to feel the urge to prune, remember the rule: Prune in June. This applies to most deciduous trees because:
- trees are generally best pruned when they are perfectly dormant;
- many varieties commence to shoot in July;
- in areas prone to gummosis, spores are at their lowest numbers in June and cuts have plenty of time to dry out before heavy spore discharge in September.
The objectives of pruning fruit trees are to improve size and quality of fruit, to promote regular bearing and to maintain the tree in a healthy, robust condition.
Pruning is a means of adjusting the vigour of a tree to suit its environment (water, soil quality, space) and to your needs: fruit size and quantity, accessibility of fruit. Tall trees are harder to harvest for the home gardener and harder to protect from feasting wildlife!
What to remove from any given tree depends on the tree’s stage in life: planting to bearing, bearing to fully developed framework, maintenance or renovation. Fortunately trees are quite forgiving, and if mistakes are made they can be rectified over a period of two to three years. Get the tools ready now: clean and sharpen your secateurs, your long arm pruners and your pruning saw, and if in doubt, get advice before you snip!