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Unpruned apples produce smaller fruit, are often more susceptible to disease and start fruiting biennially a natural way of dealing with pest and disease: less fruit, less infection. Winter pruning allows you to claw back a tree into a more ordered manner.
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The first thing, though, is working out what kind of a fruiting apple you have. Knowing the name makes this whole task very easy: just Google your apple plus RHS, and under the pruning section, the website will tell you that your tree is either a spur-bearer, a tip-bearer or a partial-tip bearer, which relates to where on the tree a fruit bud appears. These are round and plump, and on apples are often covered with down — the best time to see a fruit bud is now. From this fat little bud appear the flowers and, when pollinated, the fruit.
Apples and Pears - Training and Pruning
A growth or wood bud is quite the opposite: slender, pointed and borne in a leaf axil. These buds are much smaller and give rise only to leaves, never flowers. Clearly you need both for a healthy tree, but if you cut off all fruit buds, well, the end of this sentence is obvious: no fruit. Spur-bearer trees produce short, branched shoots — or spurs — with pointy fruit buds, mostly on two-year-old wood.
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A neglected tree can, however, become very congested with spurs, producing a lot of very small fruit. Tip-bearers are the opposite and produce very few spurs. The fruit buds are found at the tip of long shoots produced the previous year. Growth cells concentrate in these nodes, causing fast bark regrowth which seals the cuts and lessens the need for tree paints.
Pruning Young Fruit Trees
Focus on those sprouting from the trunk and the central branches, cutting them off completely. Then thin those growing on the ends of the branches by removing one in three to prevent congestion.
W hile in the canopy, look out for and collect the brown, mummified fruits affected with brown rot fungus and bury deep in compost to prevent the fungus spreading to new crops or causing canker. O nce you have finished pruning, you should have an open vase of branches with noticeably higher light levels and air circulation through the tree.
The trunk will be clean and free of whippy shoots. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future.
Pruning apple trees in summer - everything gardeners need to know
Visit our adblocking instructions page. Telegraph Lifestyle Gardening Problem solving. You will need Prepare to prune Lean your ladder into the tree, propping it so it sits without wobbling against a stout, healthy branch within easy reach of what you want to cut.
Collect bad apples W hile in the canopy, look out for and collect the brown, mummified fruits affected with brown rot fungus and bury deep in compost to prevent the fungus spreading to new crops or causing canker. The finished tree O nce you have finished pruning, you should have an open vase of branches with noticeably higher light levels and air circulation through the tree. We've noticed you're adblocking.
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