When Prune Apple Trees – All You Need to Know

We know that gardening is not as simple as it seems, and apple pruning follows the same path, but here’s when prune apple trees for good fruiting.

Pruning an apple tree is a task that not everyone does correctly; it is an activity that combines technical knowledge with logic.

Why Is Apple Tree Pruning So Important? What Happens If I Don’t Do It or Do It Wrong?

Pruning apple trees is important for two main reasons:

To help maintain balance: to control the vegetation of the plant.

To improve fruiting: It helps us to have more and better-quality fruit.

The purpose of pruning the apple tree is to have larger apples. If the fruit tree is not pruned, it will have more flowers and less fruit.

If an apple tree is not pruned, it will flower a lot because it has a lot of vegetative buds, and it will impede the fruit budding.

When Prune Apple Trees

To know when to prune apple trees, you have to take into account the season you are in. Within the pruning of apples or pear trees, there are two types of pruning depending on the time of year:

On the one hand, winter pruning, also known as straight pruning or dormant period pruning. On the other hand, summer pruning or green pruning is done during the rest of the year.

The main pruning is winter pruning, followed by one or two more prunings in summer.

When Prune Apple TreesWinter Pruning

Winter pruning coincides with December, January, and February.

It is done during the vegetative phase of the apple tree when it has lost its leaves so that you can better observe the branches of the tree and identify which branches need to be pruned.

This is also the ideal time for rejuvenation pruning, so take advantage of the winter to prune those older trees.

When Prune Apple TreesSummer Pruning

May and June are the best months for summer pruning. Although a second pruning can indeed be done in August or September if the fruit tree needs it.

when to prune apple trees

Types of Apple Tree Pruning

To know what type of pruning your tree needs, you have to study its needs. Normally, depending on the age of your apple tree, one type of pruning or another will suit it.

Pruning fruit trees is not the same as pruning other species. Remember that the objective of pruning is to obtain large, quality fruit.

The objective is clear: to have a directed growth where branches do not cross each other.

It is important that, if you have never pruned an apple tree, you do not prune it completely the first time you do it, it is more advisable to do partial pruning.

The aim is to achieve a structure of branches that grow horizontally, for this we have different types of pruning:

  • Training pruning: this type of pruning is recommended until the apple tree reaches 4 years of age.
  • Cleaning pruning: the generic pruning par excellence. In this pruning, it is necessary to remove dry branches or those that damage the rest of the tree and it is done every year.
  • Fruiting pruning: this type of pruning for apple trees seeks to renew the shape of the tree to prepare it for the next harvest.
  • Regeneration pruning: in cases where apple production is decreasing, this type of pruning is recommended to produce a regrowth in the fruit tree.
types of apple tree pruning

Pruning Apple Trees: Knowing What to Cut

To know how to prune a fruit tree correctly, you need to know how to correctly identify what you want to remove.

Knowing the structure of the branches is very important to prune an apple tree correctly, so here is a brief explanation of the types of apple tree branches to prune:

Apple Tree Bud

When pruning apple trees, the aim is to find a balance to achieve a good production in volume and density in both the blossom bud and the wood buds.

The blossom buds are those branches with a pointed tip on which the blossom of the fruit tree will sprout.

Vegetative buds (also known as male or wood buds) are smaller in size and provide vegetation. This type of branch should be kept if we want to increase production.

If we have a lot of small apples, we could remove part of these buds.

Apple Tree Pruning Material

Before pruning the branches of your apple tree, it is important to choose the right material for pruning as a bad choice can make our tree sick:

Pruning Tool

An item such as a knife or razor will help you prune your tree with horizontal cuts. A pruning knife is ideal for apple tree pruning.

Don’t forget to always disinfect your tools before pruning.

Also, remember that it must be sharp enough to make clean cuts with a certain inclination.

Pruning Sealer for Apple Tree

This type of dough is used to seal the cut branches and prevent future infections or diseases.

You should get a pruning sealer in any specialized store or, failing that, you can make it at home.

If you do not want to make the homemade pruning sealer you should buy the same one that we use in our plants (Order it here).

Tanglefoot Tree Wound Pruning Sealer & Grafting Compound
4,451 Reviews
Tanglefoot Tree Wound Pruning Sealer & Grafting Compound
  • Use to seal wounds and grafts
  • Helps repair damage caused by pruning, animals, insects, storms, and string trimmers
  • Provides flexible protective seal

Homemade Pruning Sealer for Your Apple Tree

Many gardeners are not fond of using chemicals and artificial fertilizers for their garden, that’s why we recommend this homemade pruning sealer to seal the branches of your apple tree.  We will need:

A container for the mixture.

Plasticine: It serves as a waterproofing agent. Choose a neutral color to avoid the attention of insects.

Olivia oil: to better seal the paste.

Ground cinnamon: it is an excellent fungicide, it prevents the appearance of fungi.

When you make a mixture with consistency, but that can be spread on the surface of the branch without a problem.

Steps to Prune Apple Tree

Now that you know everything there is to know about apple tree pruning and fruit tree pruning, we tell you what steps you need to follow to prune apples correctly:

Identify dead, broken, or diseased branches that cannot be recovered.

Cut those canes inside that cross or generate shade in the case of an adult apple tree.

In the case of wood buds, try not to eliminate them, only reduce their size; cut this type of branch with the bud towards the outside.

Seal each cut with pruning sealer to avoid infections in the next sprouting.

We hope this article on when to prune apple trees will be of great use to you and that you will have success with your next apple crop.

apple tree blossoms
Apple tree blossoms.
About Henry Morgan

We are the Morgan family, Henry, and Morgan, both agronomists from the University of Michigan, where we met. We are experts in putting our hands in the soil and developing organic foods and improving production processes for decades. Likewise, we have worked for companies such as Mondelez International, BASF, Monsanto, etc. currently in our role as science writers for TheGardenStyle.com as well as advisors in promoting large scale food growing in urbanized areas. In this website, we share what we are most passionate about, gardening and farming. Enjoy and see real photos on our website.