Pruning is a process that involves removal of unwanted parts of a plant, such as those that are dead, diseased, or otherwise unhealthy. Plum pruning is essential to get the best prunes available. Besides these little fruits are packed with vitamin A, C and K, as well as multiple minerals. Keeping them healthy during the growing process assures that they will be healthy for the person eating it.
There is nothing better than a great tasting plum, especially when they come from your own trees. Typically, once the plum tree is established it is very easy to care for and prune the tree. It mainly consists of thinning out overcrowded wood rather than completely taking apart the tree. However, in the early years the pruning of a plum tree is extremely detailed and really is what sets the tree up for a long and plentiful life. Timing is essential to build the framework for years to come.
When you plant your tree for the first time, it is called a maiden tree. This is basically a tree that is within one year of budding and should be planted in the fall. The time to prune a maiden plum tree is during the first spring after it was planted. You may find some that say that June is the best time, but this more or less pertains to people in much colder climates during the years. Generally, spring is the best time for almost everyone, and it should never be pruned any later than June for any reason.
Generally when you prune a plum tree you need to wait for the tree to settle down. It should be pruned to a bud which is about 9 to 12 inches above the height of the lowest branch desired. Following spring the shoots will grow from the buds below the top leaving the most suitable buds. You need to make sure that they are well spaced and at a wide angle to the stem. You should remove all the other shoots leaving only around five or so that will form the main branch system. After this make a nick below the top bud with a knife which forces more growth into the lower buds. If there is any growth below the position of the lowest branch you should keep it shortened during the year, but not remove it as it assists in thickening the stem.
Timing on the pruning is different for a tree that is bought when it is two or three years old. At this point you should defer your pruning for at least one year after planting. This is because the branch system is already formed and the framework is almost complete. If you prune after that it should be done in the following spring where you will cut out diseased and dead wood or badly placed wood crossings.
You need to keep in mind that Silver Leaf Disease can be a problem for plum trees so it is important that you absolutely do prune your trees. If it is not pruned then this disease can enter during the winter and ruin the tree. During the formation period of the tree, the pruning should be done during early spring because the cuts that the disease enters in are very small. However, once the tree is established it is better to wait until late spring when the weather is drier.