How to Prune Overgrown Apple Trees

Views: 14477 | Last Update: 2009-02-04
By pruning an overgrown apple tree into a vase cut, the top branches are thinned out to make room for more fruit production. Trim out the lighter-colored branches to properly maintain an apple tree with instructions from a sustainable gardener in this... View Video Transcript

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Yolanda Vanveen

Video Transcript

Hi, this is Yolanda Vanveen, and in this segment, we're going to talk about how to prune overgrown apple trees. Well, when you buy a house or you buy a home in the country and you get all these overgrown apple trees that have never been pruned and they don't produce much fruit. So what do you do with them? So there's a lot of rules that you should follow, but the most important part is that you're just thinning it out and cutting out at least one-third of the tree per year. And it might take three years. You might just prune out one-third. Then the next year, one-third. Then the next year, one-third because you don't want to hack it too much in one year. But if you're patient with that overgrown apple tree and you just prune it a little bit per year, by that third year, you'll have a beautiful tree. So here are some rules. If you have a fruit tree that's been established and it's really tall and not producing fruit and you have not pruned it very much, then you can actually cut out some of the top branches. And what you're making is called a vase cut. By doing that, you're forcing most of the growth back down to the bottom part of the tree, and you'll get a lot more fruit for the next year. So when you're pruning any type of a tree, you want to be really careful to cut it at the right angle. For example, if it's a large branch, you want to cut first at one side and then the other side, and then you're cutting that whole heavy branch off because if you just cut from one angle, it might actually hurt some of the bark and get into the main trunk. And you never want to hut the main trunk because you will lose the tree if it gets too damaged. And you don't want to cut it too far out, either, where the C-D cut is because what happens is then it gets too much moisture and it'll rot and there's too much dead material. You want to cut it right at a little bit of an angle, leaving one to two inches right at where the tree is reading with the main trunk. Same thing -- you never want to cut right up to the trunk line and make a solid cut because what happens is the tree gets very damaged and sometimes it will eventually kill the tree because it doesn't have bark to protect the main trunk, and that is what's needed. So by just cutting some of the top branches out and some of the bottom branches and some of the dead branches and just thinning it out. You will find that that old overgrown apple tree will turn around and become bushy and lush and provide you lots of apples the next year, and it can be saved.