OSU offers guide to pruning and training fruit trees

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Last Updated: 
December 1, 2006

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Want to learn how to prune and train fruit trees the right way? Winter is time to study up and get out there and start pruning your fruit trees.

Oregon State University Extension Service's comprehensive guide "Training and Pruning Your Home Orchard" is a good place to start. This 14-page illustrated guide, available online or via mail, explains and illustrates the basic principles of training and pruning apple, pear, sweet and sour cherries, peach, prune, plum, walnut, filbert and apricot trees.

The best time to prune fruit and nut trees is when all danger of winter freeze has passed, but before full bloom in the spring.

Training fruit and nut trees helps to develop a stronger tree that can support heavy crops without limb breakage. It can also help bring a young tree into production at an early age.

Pruning helps keep trees at a manageable size, making them easier to maintain and harvest. Pruning also can increase fruit production and quality. Home orchardists can eliminate the need for propping up fruit-laden branches by pruning properly. The structural strength and branching patterns can be improved in young trees with good pruning techniques.

Here are some basic recommendations for pruning fruit and nut trees from the OSU Extension Service:

At planting time, prune all fruit and nut trees to balance the tops with the roots. Prune young trees very lightly. Mature trees need heavier pruning, especially if they've shown little growth. The top of a fruit tree needs heavier pruning than the lower portion.

Sweet cherry trees may be pruned in August when there's less danger of bacterial infection.

To increase fruit size and quality, thin out more shoots toward the end of a well-pruned branch in a mature tree. To reduce the height in an excessively tall fruit or nut tree, cut whole limbs out of the top, making cuts flush with the bark of a lower limb.

To download "Training and Pruning Your Home Orchard," (PNW 400), from the Web, go to: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/html/pnw/pnw400/

Or, to order a printed copy of "Training and Pruning Your Home Orchard," (PNW 400), send your request and a check or money order, for $2.50 per copy plus $3 shipping and handling payable to OSU to: Publication Orders, Extension and Station Communications, OSU, 422 Kerr Administration, Corvallis, OR 97331-2119.

Author: Carol Savonen