Who doesn't love the taste of sun-ripened cherries or a juicy, succulent apple? Growing your own fruit trees gives you an opportunity to enjoy the bounty that nature has to offer. However, it takes careful pruning to bring a fruit tree to its full potential. A properly groomed fruit tree has a better chance of surviving and being productive than one that's left to its own devices.
There's a time and place for everything, especially when it comes to pruning your fruit trees. If you're wondering when the right time to prune your fruit tree is, read on to find out.
Summer: Ideal for Minor Cuts
Summer pruning can be helpful for dealing with wind-damaged limbs and branches, as well as limbs that are growing inwards back towards the tree or rubbing against each other. Thin, weak limbs should also be taken care of through summer pruning.
Some fruit trees, including apple and pear trees, benefit the most from summer pruning. Thinning out limb growth on young fruit trees helps increase light exposure for fruiting wood, which in turn improves the size and quality of your fruit. However, you don't want to prune too much, as it could place a large amount of stress on the tree.
July and early August offer the best opportunities for summer pruning, but you shouldn't wait too late to take advantage of them. Pruning after early August can open your fruit trees to risk of winter injury. If you miss this window of pruning opportunity, you're better off waiting until late winter.
Late Winter: Best for Vigorous Growth
There are plenty of benefits to pruning your fruit trees during the late winter. With most or all of your fruit tree's leaves out of the way, you'll find it easier to spot and remove limbs affecting your tree's ideal structure.
Pruning during dormancy is also ideal for stimulating thick, vigorous tree growth. With most of the tree's nutrients stored within the roots during the winter, you won't have to worry about robbing your tree of its stored energy. With proper pruning, your fruit trees will have fewer branches to divide their stored energy among, giving your remaining branches -- and fruit -- a larger share of nutrients to use for their growth.
December through early February is usually the best time to consider any large-scale pruning. It's a good idea to time your pruning just after major leaf fall, but before your fruit trees begin to bud. For more information, contact your local tree pruning service.