How you prune your nut tree and how much to prune it are a matter of age. Trees under age 5 require more pruning to ensure healthy growth later on and to shape the tree. However, trees over about 5 years in age require very little in the way of pruning--your main concern each summer is to remove dead branches or any that appear diseased.
Prune in late fall, after the bulk of the nuts have already fallen from the tree. Identify the main leader, or the primary trunk of the tree. If the tree is under 5 years of age cut off the top third of this primary leader. Remove any other branches that are competing with the primary leader as these will cause weakness in the tree later on. Remove these secondary leaders all the way back to the main trunk.
Cut out all dead wood, weak branches or any wood that appears diseased.
Cut out all branches that cross each other or which are growing horizontally across the main canopy of the tree. Remove any branches which are growing at a downward angle.
Remove branches that are growing out of the trunk too closely together. If branches are growing out of the trunk within 6 inches of each other remove the smaller of the branches, leaving only the strongest.
Pinch or cut off any suckers that are growing out of the trunk or the roots. Suckers can be identified by the fact that they have no true bark, only a smooth skin.