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How to Make Fruit Trees Produce

By Kelly Shetsky ; Updated September 21, 2017
Get trees to produce fruit by keeping weeds away and giving the tree the nutrients it needs.
un fruit, le citron image by MONIQUE POUZET from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Spacing, pollination, training, pruning and fertilizing fruit trees give them the best chance to produce a bountiful crop. Flower buds form one season, then result in a fruit crop the following season. So, everything you do to care for your fruit trees will effect next year's crop. Sunlight will encourage optimal fruit flavor and quality, as well as bud development. The correct training will open up a tree canopy to sunlight and air circulation, both of which are essential to making fruit trees produce.

Plant fruit trees in the full sun to promote leaf and fruit growth. Each piece of fruit needs several leaves to grow. Shade will delay fruit bearing and reduce the amount of fruit produced.

Give trees space. Fruit trees need room for their root systems to grow and spread. Make sure other trees are not competing for underground space.

Pollinate the trees. Many varieties cannot make fruit with just their own pollen; they need another tree for cross-pollination. Most apple trees, for instance, need another apple variety nearby to produce.

Choose the central leader or main trunk of the tree. Cherry, apple, pecan, pear and plum trees need one upright trunk, with lateral branches growing from it. Select three or four branches that are growing in an evenly spaced manner from the central leader. This is called a scaffold whorl. Keep the space 18 to 24 inches above the scaffold whorl free from branches, then allow another set of branches (a second scaffold whorl) to grow. Cut off all the branches that do not fall into this pattern.

Lay down at least 3 inches of mulch around the base of fruit trees. Reducing the competition of weeds and grass will result in better fruit production. You can also use a weed killer, following the label instructions.

Remove dead or diseased branches and limbs as soon as you notice them. Cut them off with pruning shears or a pruning saw where they meet healthy wood.

Thin the canopy for better sunlight and air circulation. Remove branches that are crossing or rubbing each other just before flowering begins. Keep only strong branches growing out from the sides of the main trunk. These will be strong enough to withstand the weight of a fruit crop.

Scatter fertilizer that is made for fruit trees on the ground above where the roots are growing. Start the application 1 foot from the tree trunk and lay it down to just beyond the ends of the branches overhead. Rake it lightly to get it to penetrate the soil. Water the fertilizer until it's moist.


Things You Will Need

  • Mulch
  • Weed killer
  • Water
  • Pruning shears or saw
  • Fertilizer


  • Sterilize blades when pruning diseased wood or you'll cause diseases to spread. Use a 10 percent liquid bleach solution.


  • Do not prune too much or you'll stunt fruit production.

About the Author


Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.