How to Prune Apple Trees When They are Young

May 15, 2012 by


how to prune apple treesWhen you’re learning how to prune a young apple tree, the first thing that you want to do is you want to start at the bottom of the tree. Make sure to prune low hanging branches. Pruning doesn’t actually hurt the tree, but it helps it because it enables the tree to grow more vigorously and those areas are directions where it is going to help the most.

It Takes Time to Create a Quality Tree

Apples are fun to grow and a real treat once it becomes time to harvest them. But before you can reap significant fruits of your labor from, you’re going to have to put in the time to properly grow and prune your apple tree. Even the small amount of pruning that you do during the first 2 to 5 years can make a huge difference in how your tree turns out.

When Is the Best Time for Pruning Apple Trees

The best time for pruning your apple trees is just before they start to bud. Typically this will be during the winter. January and early February are two of the most common times to prune your apple trees.

Steps for Pruning Apple Trees

When you’re learning how to prune apple trees, you want to start by pruning lower branches. Getting rid of the lower branches is good because it will help your tree to grow taller. The lower branches on the tree typically won’t get the most sunlight. So getting rid of them helps the rest of the tree to be healthy. When your pruning younger tree, you can usually do it with a pair of scissors. Make sure to make your cuts as close to the main branch you’re cutting from as possible.


pruning an apple tree

After pruning the lower branches of the tree, the next step is to prune any parts of the tree that might be growing in the wrong direction. With a younger tree, you often get small branches that are going towards the center. You don’t want to keep these. Cut them off. You want to make your tree branch out away from the center. You will be able to get a lot more sunlight by keeping your tree open, and when he gets a lot of sunlight it will also give you more fruit.

When you are shortening some of the longer branches or stems from your tree, make sure that the next bud at the tip of the cut, is pointing in the right direction. Branches will grow from but then continue to grow in the same direction that the bud appears. It is important to make sure that the last bud that you leave on your tree is growing in the right direction. Remember, that you want to have an open center and you want to grow your branches outward. Usually a favorable direction means towards an area that doesn’t yet have branches, and an area that is away from the center of the tree. Another thing you want to do is look at the tree’s growth lines. Typically, you don’t want to remove more than the tree that has grown in the last year. When you are pruning your Apple stems and branches, you want to make sure that you prune out all the way back to the branch bark ridge. This will make it easier for the trees to heal themselves. When trees are younger, they can heal really quickly. When trees are older, and the cuts are much larger it takes a lot more time and energy for the tree to repair itself.

 The next important thing to remember is to make sure that none of your branches are growing too close together. Even though there may be plenty of room for that now, as they get to be bigger they will be rubbing against each other. I have a cherry tree on my property that didn’t get pruned well enough when it was young. As a result, two of the main branches are rubbing against each other. This next winter I’m going to have to go out and remove one of these branches. It would have been a lot easier to do if they would have been pruned when they were younger.

Having the Right Angle is Extremely Important

When you are cutting an apple tree, you want to make sure that you have a nice wide angle between your branches. This is especially true for your main branch. Make sure that when you cut and prune your tree that your branches are properly spaced, with enough of an angle between them so that they can get their own sunlight.

When you are pruning an apple tree, you want to make sure that it has a strong central leader. You want to make sure that the central leader is taller than any of the other branches. Having a central leader will make it easier for you to harvest your apples from the tree later on. If the tree is still young, you can reshape it, by selecting a new leader. Most of the time, you’ll need to look at the direction of the bud to make sure that the tree is going to grow in the right direction after you cut it.

prune a young apple treePruning is the most important during the first five years of the tree development. Even though you may not see very much growth during the first two years, knowing how to prune apple trees makes a huge difference. Careful pruning can help you to produce more fruit on your trees. It can also make your trees a lot more productive. Pruning young apple trees will help give them their permanent shape.

Another trick to pruning an apple tree is to make sure to have a series of scaffold branches. This means that you will have different layers of branches as you go up the tree. Each scaffold will probably contain three or four outward facing branches.

The last thing to make sure of is that you don’t want to do just to have a double leader. If you realize that you are starting to get a double leader. Prune one of them back so that the real leader is much taller.

Aside from careful pruning, you also want to make sure that you get plenty of nutrients and plenty of water when the tree is maturing. This will help it to grow quicker and establish itself much faster.


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