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How to Prune Apple Trees in Michigan

By Elton Dunn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Pruning apple trees promotes tree health.

Apples are one of the only fruit trees that grows well in Michigan because they are so cold hardy. Michigan apple trees benefit from annual pruning, but it must be done in late spring, after the risk of cold injury and before the summer's heat and humidity. Proper pruning keeps the tree healthy by removing dead and diseased wood and increasing both light and air circulation. Established apple trees only need shaping cuts rather than training.

Remove dead, diseased or damaged growth for the health of the tree. Dead branches don't move in the wind. Diseased or damaged branches are often discolored, marred, scarred or wounded.

Prepare a disinfectant solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water in a bucket. Dip your tools in the solution before pruning.

Clip off dead, diseased and unhealthy wood using anvil pruners for thin cuts and lopping shears for cuts thicker than 1 inch.

Remove any crossed branches on your tree, since the rubbing of the branches will damage the tree. Also remove downward-growing branches.

Trim back long limbs to a lateral branch. Clip just before the lateral branch at a 45-degree angle.

Prune off suckers that grow from the tree trunk or out of the sites of past pruning cuts. These fast-growing shoots will not bear fruit and will sap energy from the tree.

Cut back the top branches of your apple tree if it is growing too tall. Clip them back to their desired height using a saw. You may need a ladder to reach the top.


Things You Will Need

  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Anvil pruners
  • Lopping shears
  • Saw
  • Ladder

About the Author


A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.