Neglecting to prune your fruit trees won’t stop production of fruit. However, we recommend you prune annually to improve the quality of fruit and to establish a strong framework of branches to support heavy fruit loads.
Pruning fruit trees can result in larger fruit that is easier to harvest.The tree will be much tidier and takes up less space in the garden.
We’ve put together this quick guide for when you should be pruning your trees. But, if all of this seems a bit confusing or too difficult, give us a call, we’ll arrange to come and do your pruning for you at the right times that it should be done.
Winter Pruning vs Summer Pruning
Winter pruning of fruit trees usually results in vigorous growth. The harder the fruit tree is pruned in winter the more vigorous the growth will be in spring. Winter pruning is used to train a tree to a particular shape or to encourage substantial growth. Winter pruning is recommended for newly planted trees up until the tree has achieved the desired height and shape.
In general, summer fruit tree pruning retards growth.The already established framework is maintained. The new growth that follows is tamed and is much less vigorous than growth following winter pruning. This allows more energy to be put into fruit. Once a system of summer pruning is established, very little winter pruning of the framework is required
When to prune fruit trees
The only fruit trees which require a defined pruning period are apricots which should be pruned very early in the dormant season as soon as the leaves turn yellow, around late March early April.
Winter pruning time for other fruit trees is from autumn, when the tree is beginning to lose its leaves, through to spring,as the flowers are beginning to open.
Summer fruit tree pruning can be carried out before or after harvest.
Remember: Winter pruning promotes vigorous growth; summer pruning inhibits growth.
- Winter prune deciduous fruit trees such as apple, pear (always lightly), peach, nectarine, cherry and plums.
- Autumn-fruiting raspberries (primocanes) should be cut back in late winter to within a few centimetres of the ground. Newly planted raspberries and hybrid blackberries should also be pruned.
- Pruning blueberry bushes should be performed after harvest has finished, ideally in late winter.
- Pruning citrus trees by removing diseased or dead wood. Also cut out any crossed branches that are rubbing.
- Thin some small fruits on early-season stone (apricots, plum and peach) and pome (apple and pear) fruit trees to improve the quality and size of the remaining fruit.
- Passionfruit vines can be pruned in mid- to late spring.
- Continue thinning small fruit on late-season deciduous fruit varieties into the early part of summer.
- Carry out summer pruning on deciduous fruit trees after harvesting in late summer.
- Cut out summer-fruiting raspberry canes (floricanes) that have completely finished fruiting.
- Summer pruning of deciduous pome and stone fruit trees should be completed by early autumn.
- Shoots of blackberry hybrids that have fruited should be cut down.
- Bananas (yes, you can even grow some varieties of Bananas in Melbourne) are cut to the ground after fruiting. Each plant will be replaced by an emerging sucker.
- Avocados are pruned lightly immediately after harvest. Trim only one side or the top of the tree annually. Rotate the part that you trim each year to maximise fruit production.
If fruit tree pruning seems a bit confusing or too difficult, remember, give Leaf, Root & Fruit a call, and we’ll happily arrange to do it for you.