Nothing is sweeter and more satisfying than harvesting homegrown fruit from your own garden. Every time you pick a fruit from your tree, you inevitably wish there was more of it! This is where pruning comes into play. When you prune fruit trees regularly, you ensure that sunlight reaches all parts of the tree. The result is more and higher quality fruit. Now for the million dollar question: when should you prune your fruit trees? Do you need to prune fruit trees in the summer? Read on to find out.
Table of Contents
Why should you prune fruit trees in summer
Can you prune fruit trees in the summer? The short answer is yes, you can prune fruit trees in the summer . In fact, you can prune many fruit trees, including apple and peach trees, year-round without doing any damage. You can prune your fruit tree in the summer if your tree:
- bears too much fruit
- grows too large
- poses a hazard due to unstable branches
- is hindered by older, non-fruit bearing branches.
If this is the case, you should prune your fruit tree back a bit. When pruning fruit trees in the summer, limit yourself to smaller cuts. Save the extensive pruning for the dormant season.
Which fruit trees are suitable for summer pruning
- Dwarf fruit trees
When should the summer pruning be done
Summer pruning is best done in August-September when most branches have formed a terminal bud. Note that on actively growing branches, the tips have a vegetative bud that continues to produce leaves and elongate. This is visible – you will see new leaves forming at the tip of a branch. When a branch stops growing, it puts on a thick terminal bud (often the beginning of a fruiting bud) and does not continue to grow that year. It has physiologically shut down for the season and pruning no longer stimulates growth (or at least not much). If actively growing, 1-year-old side shoots will show at least 30 cm of new growth and have an audible crack when broken at the base.
Pruning fruit trees in summer: tips and instructions.
- Shorten the leading shoot at the end of each branch to half its length. Prune only the current season’s growth in this manner and only to just above a leaf. This encourages the formation of side shoots and helps limit the spread of the tree.
- Cut back the remaining side shoots on each branch more severely, down to two or three buds at the base of the current season’s leaf shoot, cutting just above a bud. This will encourage the formation of short fruiting shoots.
- Do not cut into woody growth. Leave all developing fruit intact and do not cut into woody growth.
Treatment of side branches
When deciding which side branches to keep and which to thin (remove), keep the side branches with moderate or weak growth vigor. Overly vigorous side branches tend to grow too long and shade neighboring branches. Their hormonal “impulse” is not to bear fruit. It is best to remove upright and vigorous side branches completely. Allow weaker branches to grow at an angle (90º) to the main shoot. This can be done with twine or V-notched twist spreaders. There are the following options for treating side shoots:
- If they are short and flat, leave them alone. They will stop growing and begin to fruit on their own.
- If they are moderately strong, you should direct them downward toward horizontal.
- If they are longer and stronger, they should be pruned in the summer.
Do not prune the side shoots in winter. This will cause them to grow strongly and branch, resulting in compaction and shading, both of which will reduce the quality of the fruit. If the side shoots are longer than 20-22 cm, they can be pruned in the summer:
Determine the growth of the current season and cut it back to 3 buds of new growth. Ideally, the top bud will resume growth and expand, but only minimally. The next 2 buds may form fruit buds and bear fruit within a year. This is referred to as the 3-bud system. An added benefit of pruning side shoots is that they become shorter, and therefore thicker, and better able to support the weight of fruit without sagging or breaking.
Tips for pruning stone fruit
All stone fruit must be pruned in mid-summer to avoid fungal disease infection. Do not prune in wet weather and keep pruning to a minimum once a scaffold has formed. Always disinfect the scissors with methylated spirits afterwards to avoid infection.