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Fruit Tree Pruning
How to Prune & Train Fruit Trees

All fruit trees require training and pruning to develop proper shape and form, to yield high quality fruit and to live significantly longer. It is important to begin training and pruning from planting to ensure good development and growth.



Historically fruit tree form and structure has been maintained by pruning. Tree training is a much more efficient and desirable way to develop form and structure. 


Pruning is the removal of a portion of the tree to correct or maintain tree structure. Training is a relatively new practice in which tree growth is directed into a desired shape and form. 


Training young fruit trees is essential for proper tree development. It is better to direct tree growth with training than to correct it with pruning. 


Training includes summer training and summer pruning as well as dormant (winter) pruning. The goal of tree training is to direct tree growth and minimize cutting. 



Dormant pruning increases the vigour of the tree and vegetative growth, which is usually not desirable. Timing of pruning is critical. Pruning should begin as late in the winter as possible, but before the sap begins to flow. 



Summer pruning eliminates a food producing portion of the tree and results in reduced tree growth. Pruning normally starts after vegetative growth is several centimetres long with the removal of unwanted shoots. Main shoots and branches should be encouraged to grow where required by using weights and ties. Remove or head back new growth to promote the desired shape of the tree. 



A central leader tree has one main, upright trunk with whorls of branches, usually beginning 60-90cm above ground, then again every 45-60cm up the trunk. The shape of a properly trained central leader tree is like that of a Christmas tree, where the lowest branches are the longest and the branches get shorter higher up the trunk. This allows maximum light penetration into the tree. 



With the open vase system, the leader is removed and 3-5 major limbs are developed as the basic shape of the tree. This training system allows for light penetration into the tree.