Guest Post written by Sally Keys
Virginia is home to many varieties of fruit trees. From Hardy Orange trees to the apple trees that Thomas Jefferson noted created the highest quality ciders, fruit trees are a part of Virginia’s agricultural treasure. If you have fruit trees in your garden, it is essential to know how to prune them.
Benefits of Pruning
Pruning your fruit trees correctly can lead to a higher yield of fruit. The tree might produce a lower number of fruit, but each piece will be bigger, making your total harvest more abundant. Pruning can also mitigate damage from infected limbs, allow more sunlight to hit the leaves therefore protecting against disease, and keep the structure of the tree sturdy, durable, and intact.
Pruning Basics: When and How Much
One of the best things about gardening is learning about the natural world, but in order to do so you’ll need to take special precautions in your garden in order to get the most from your pruning. Take some time to learn about the fruit tree variety that you have growing in your yard so that you can help it thrive. Though the basics, such as when and how much to prune are similar for many fruit trees, some of the specifics will vary among different varieties of trees.
When To Prune
One of the best times of the year to prune is in the winter when the branch structure of the tree is most visible, and the plant is dormant. Avoid pruning in the early spring, once the tree begins to show leaf buds along the branches.
Some fruit trees, like cherry and apricot, should also be pruned in the summertime. Pruning is a great idea whenever you find a damaged or infected branch. Getting rid of that branch, no matter what time of year it is will help the tree stay healthy as a whole.
How Much To Prune
It is a good idea to prune young trees extensively for the first three winter seasons. After that, try to prune the tree so that there is a balance of vertical branches and horizontal branches. Take away any diseased branches. Take out enough branches so that sunlight can filter through the tree.
Virginia is filled with beautiful fruit trees. If you are lucky enough to be the caretaker of one, be sure that you are pruning correctly. Prune in the winter while the tree is dormant, and whenever you notice an infected branch. Heavy pruning leads to more vibrancy in the early years. Create a balanced, well-structured tree that will be sure to produce the apples, oranges, and plums that we all adore.