Don’t be daunted by how to prune fruit trees – I’ve got a couple of simple guidelines that will help make the process easier.
Firstly start by removing the 3 D’s – that’s any dead, diseased or damaged branches. Then look for any crossing or those growing downwards.
As you go consider the shape – you can prune fruit trees to many shapes – but the main goal is to open up the structure of the tree. This will increase airflow amongst the branches which can reduce disease outbreaks. And pruning will also allow more light into the centre of the tree which will help with fruit ripping.
Let’s start with pome trees – that’s your apples, pears and quince – these trees fruit on obvious fruiting spurs – so we don’t want to prune all of these off! However still need to shape the tree – so look for last seasons growth – that’s the young thinner branches and cut them back to 5 or 6 nods to get the shape you want.
Peaches and nectarines fruit on wood “last seasons growth”. So this pinkish/reddish branch which grew last spring & summer, will produce this coming summers crop. But they need to be cut back by about half so the tree can support all this fruit! Cut just after one of these nodes – ideally an outward facing one – and cut at an angle.
If you had any fungal or pest problems last season then it’s a good idea to do a clean up spray of eco-fungicide mixed with eco-oil. And to help prevent leaf furl on peaches and nectarines, spray them mid winter with a copper based spray and then again right before the leaves emerge in late winter/spring.
If I’ve not talked about a fruit tree that you have or you need more help with pruning then check out if your local nursery has any classes OR carry around a handy book like “The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia” by Louis Glowinski
So know that you know how to prune fruit trees – well the basic tips anyway….go get snipping!