Fruit trees are trimmed for a variety of reasons, including for limiting the size of the tree, removing damaged limbs and branches, and encouraging the growth of new sprouts. While many reasons for pruning a fruit tree are the same regardless of the tree, there are a few trimming techniques that are tree specific.
All Fruit Trees
Train your fruit trees into the proper shape during the first few years. Most fruit trees will grow most effectively in a standard vertical shape with one central trunk.
Cut out all of the dead, diseased and damaged wood. Disease and insect infestation can spread, and dead wood can fall out of the tree on its own, posing a hazard to anything nearby.
Remove rubbing limbs and branches. Branches that rub against each other or the trunk of the tree can cause bark wounds, which are perfect grounds for infections and insect infestations.
Angle the cuts downward and in toward the tree. This will prevent water from running toward the center of the tree and could lead to root rot.
Trim your fruit trees before the beginning of the growing season. Early spring, between February and March, after most danger of frost has passed, is an ideal time for trimming fruit trees.
Specific Trimming Tips
Trim apricot, plum and cherry trees only to limit their size. Cut down limbs that have grown too long and low limbs that get in the way.
Open up peach and nectarine trees between branches. Remove 30 percent of the branches and limbs each winter. This encourages new growth of wood, which is the main producer of fruit on peach trees.
Remove up to 90 percent of grape plant growth each season. Grape trees will bounce back in the spring with a lot of new growth. Trim to only four or five main branches of new wood.
Try to keep 45-degree angles between any two branches on an apple tree. Remove no more than 15 percent of apple tree branches during any season.