There are two basic times of the year that it’s best to prune fruit trees; dormant and summer.
Most people prune when the tree is dormant (no leaves) because it’s easier to see what and where you are cutting. But people often forget that dormant pruning has a stimulating effect on the tree’s growth. That means you are encouraging new growth the next growing season- most noticeably directly below where the cuts are made. This is very useful and desirable in many cases, but not all. Sometimes you may want to slow the growth of a tree. “I want to keep it small” I often hear people say- this is when summer pruning is called for.
Summer pruning has a dwarfing effect meaning you can control the shape and size of your tree (and thus where the fruit grows) without it sending up so many vertical fast growing shoots known as water-sprouts, the next year. Summer pruning tends to dampen water-sprout growth. The growing season is also a good time to prune especially vigorous young trees, or extremely overgrown older trees that may be getting too big for their space or producing fruit out of reach. Pruning in the summer can begin to stop the endless cycle of pruning out hundreds of water-sprouts and suckers every winter.
Often trees that are very overgrown need several years of pruning to gradually come back down to size or be thinned out appropriately. Excessive pruning at any time of the year can result in an abundance of water-sprouts the next year or unduly stress the tree.
There are still a few weeks left for dormant season pruning. Give me a call or send an email to schedule a free estimate.
Don’t have a fruit tree- Are you interested in planting one? Check out some Washington nurseries for fruit trees and other edible plants. I’m also available to plant trees and consult on their placement in your landscape.