Apricot trees produce a succulent fruit which is perfect for jams and pies. They are self-fruiting which means they don't require another tree for pollination. Therefore, you can plant a single apricot tree in your yard and reap the benefits. Pruning young apricot trees is essential to the development and health of the crops. Young trees should be pruned heavily for the first three years. While there won't be any fruit during this time, there will be a greater amount and quality of apricots in later years.
Prune the tree during the winter, which is the dormant season. There shouldn't be any leaves on it, which makes it easier to remove dormant buds and see the shape of the tree.
Cut a new apricot tree so that it is 24 to 30 inches tall. Wearing gloves, use the shears to clip side shoots that remain below the cut line. They should only have one bud, which will encourage branches to grow low.
Choose a branch to be the central leader or stem of the apricot tree. This one will become the trunk of the tree. Use pruning shears to cut off stems that compete with the central leader.
Select a scaffold of branches in the first year, which is a group of three to four branches that are spaced apart and not directly across from one another. They should be 12 to 15 inches above the ground. Clip off any branches that compete with the first scaffold.
Allow other scaffolds to grow in following years. They should be spaced 2 to 3 feet up the central stem of the young apricot tree.
Climb the ladder if necessary and cut off the top of vertical branches to allow more exposure to sunlight and promote new vegetative growth. You can also top horizontal branches if you need to thin out the crop. If not, leave them be, and you'll see a heavier crop grow.
Keep a good mix of vertical and horizontal branches. Remove branch sprouts that grow straight up into the tree. Also clip off those that face the ground because they won't be productive.