I suppose you might be wondering why all the fuss. Why do you prune anyways? Good question. There are a lot of good reasons. Here are a few to satiate your curiosity: 1) For trees such as peaches, pears, and apples pruning your trees produces new growth, which in turn produces more fruit. Therefore, pruning yields a larger crop over time. Not bad if you want to make the money honey. 2) Many fruit trees need to be open to sunlight, as shaded branches won't produce much fruit. Pruning opens up the branches to that lovely Okanagan sunshine. 3) Removing the dead branches from the tree allows for better, stronger, and more vigorous new growth to sprout come spring, which again means more fruit.
So, now that we're all on board with this pruning thing, when is the best time to get it done? WELL, it's a good thing you asked, cause it's RIGHT NOW!! I often get told to use my inside voice, but in this case I think it's rather valid that I'm yelling. Generally speaking the best time to prune is after the last cold snap of winter. Which, luck bearing, we just had. SO GET OUT THERE!
How to prune? Well. Each tree is different, and has different needs. As well, how you prune depends on how old your tree is! So before you get out there with a set of clippers ready to get busy make sure you know the age of the tree (approximately of course) and the variety. Google is your best friend if you're new at things, so don't be afraid to use it. As well, you could always call up our good friends at Dogwood Nursery for any tips or tricks. Just don't call us....I'm only half kidding.
Here are a few quick tips for some varieties:
Quick note: Apple trees should not be heavily pruned until the third year, or thereabouts. Not every apple tree needs to be pruned every year as well, but if your tree is a good shade tree, chances are it's time for a spruce up. Apples should have 2-6 large scaffolding branches that connect to the main trunk. These branches should be far enough away from one another so as not to overlap. Remove dead wood, suckers from the base of the tree, and cut off any branches that are overlapping. Much like the peach, you only want branches that are pointing up.
Cherry Trees are delicate and susceptible to disease, so one must remember to be sanitary when completing this task. Make sure to cut branches at an angle that is in accordance with the tree, again allowing space and a V like shape between branches. This will make sure enough sunlight gets to your fruit.