When & How to Prune Apple & Pear Trees?


Getting an apple or pear tree to produce is a bit more difficult than just letting the plant grow on its own. Getting the best fruit size and production quality requires you to prune and train the tree to create new buds. Cutting away old, dead branches and older growth encourages fruit from new buds and reduces the chance of disease. Encouraging older, strong growth will create larger fruit. Pruning correctly will train the size of the tree as well, which is essential in an orchard setting.

Step 1

Stand back from the tree and look at the overall shape. Determine how large the tree should be and look for any branches that are sticking out or areas where the branches are thick or crossing each other.

Step 2

Remove suckers from the bottom of the tree to prevent young growth that takes resources away from the main trunk.

Step 3

Cut away any broken branches and stubs from the tree.

Step 4

Find and remove any branches growing toward the ground.

Step 5

Locate any branches that are rubbing together or crisscrossing, and remove the weaker branch of the two, making sure to keep both sides of the tree even with parallel growth.

Step 6

Cut the top of the tree at the desired height. This will train it to grow only to the specified height.

Step 7

Remove young inner branches to let more light into the inside of the tree. This improves airflow and dries the inside of the tree quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses


  • Ohio State University Extension: Pruning Apple and Pear Trees
  • BBC Gardening: How to Prune Fruit Trees
  • Clemson Extension: Pruning and Training Apple and Pear Trees
Keywords: prune apple tree, pruning fruit, when to prune, prune pear tree

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on eHow.com, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.