How to Cut Fruit Trees


Cutting, or pruning a fruit tree, is an essential part of fruit tree care. Cutting removes dead branches, thins out the tree, and encourages new growth and proper fruit development, as well as preventing disease. It is important with pruning to visualize the results of the cut, as any cut is permanent. Using sharp pruning tools is also important to prevent the pinching of branches, as opposed to the cutting of them. Pruning will train your tree, permitting it only to grow the way you wish it to grow.

Step 1

Cut new trees with no branches to a height of 36 inches when planted says Kansas State University. Prune plants with branches so that there are only two to four branches. Cut all the way back to the trunk, or leader.

Step 2

Remove any dead or diseased branches from the tree, cutting the branch back to the main trunk, or cutting just above a node says Clemson University. Cut until the branch looks healthy and green on the inside. Wipe the blade with rubbing alcohol after each cut to prevent the further spread of disease. Make cuts at a 45 degree angle.

Step 3

Select 2 to 4 branches that form wide angles from the tree and are 6 inches apart and on opposite sides of the tree in the second year, and cut back the rest of the branches. Keep the lowest scaffold 18 to 24 inches above ground level says Kansas State.

Step 4

Cut away any branches that are growing towards the ground, as well as any branches that are rubbing together as they will not produce fruit.

Step 5

Cut larger branches as the tree matures using three cuts. Make the first cut 6 to 8 inches out on the underside of the branch, cutting a third of the way through. Make another cut one or two inches further out from the first cut, and cut all the way through. Cut the remaining stub back to the shoulder, where the branch protrudes from the trunk.

Step 6

Thin excess fruit from the tree by hand to keep the branches from being weighted down, and to prevent disease. Space fruit clusters every 6 inches along a branch, says Clemson University.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Ladder
  • Pruning saw
  • Rubbing alcohol


  • Clemson University Extension: Pruning and Training Apple & Pear Trees
  • Oregon State University Extension: Training and Pruning Your Home Orchard
  • Kansas State University: Pruning Fruit Trees
Keywords: pruning fruit trees, pruning trees, cutting fruit trees

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, 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.