Fruit Tree Pruning

Fruit Tree Pruning

Let’s get your fruit trees back in shape!

Why have an ArboRx Certified Arborist prune your fruit trees?

  • Invigorate old and neglected fruit trees.
  • Produce larger, sweeter fruit.
  • Proper pruning reduces insects and disease.
  • Train the trees to produce fruit at a reachable height.
  • Train the trees to produce strong branches that don’t break under weight.

Fruit trees need special care

Pruning fruit trees is much different from caring for other trees, and most arborists aren’t properly trained specifically for their care. There’s a lot that goes into pruning fruit trees, from aesthetics to other considerations such as fruit development and disease control. Often times I take on the task of rejuventating older fruit trees that haven’t been properly pruned in years, if at all. Although the best place to start is with a young fruit tree, even old trees can usually be brought back into production and may produce a crop for as much as a hundred years.

Most homeowners aren’t so concerned with getting the maximum fruit yield from their trees, instead they appreciate just being able to enjoy a little bit of everything a fruit tree has to offer us. They attract wildlife, provide shade, have beautiful, fragrant flowers and the fruit is often just a bonus.

Still, you could be getting more from your trees. There are many ways we can improve the size and flavor of the fruit, reduce insects and imperfections, and create more even yields. Neglected fruit trees, especially apples, will fall into an every-other-year cycle, but we can break that cycle with regular pruning and fruit reduction. Fruit reduction involves thinning out the small, immature fruit, usually in late June, and although it’s labor intensive, you will be rewarded with fewer worms, more regular fruit production, fewer broken branches and more.

Fruit tree pruning is not a once-and-done event, it is ongoing, although a well-maintained fruit tree may only need a half hour’s worth of work each year to keep it in tip-top shape.

fruit tree pruning reference

How to prune a fruit tree

Like I said before, there are a lot of considerations to take into account, much more so than with any other type of tree pruning. It’s very much both an art and a science. That said, here are some things that may get you thinking on the right track:

  • Diseased branches: Remove any disease branches back to a lateral (see illustration for porper pruning cut placement).
  • Rubbing, crossing or broken branches should be removed.
  • Elevate low branches off the ground, about three to five feet.
  • Thin out areas that are very crowded.
  • Trim back branches that have grown too long or heavy. Remove about 1/3.
  • Remove upright branches, they rarely produce fruit.
  • Don’t remove more than 1/4 of the tree in a season
  • Pruning in the summer discourages regrowth, winter pruning encourages new growth.

There are also different forms that are best suited for a fruit tree. It’s always best to choose the form the tree should take in it’s first year of growth, but this rarely happens as even nursery workers are rarely familiar with standard fruit tree forms. The most common forms are the open center, or vase shaped, and the modified central leader, but there are many other ways a fruit tree can be shaped. The important things to consider are: strong branches, good air circulation, sunlight and easy access to pick fruit.

Some forms are more common for apples, others best suited for cherries, plumes, peaches etc.


Give me a call for a free fruit tree appraisal and pruning estimate: 970-690-0769

Or use this form to request an estimate: