The pruning of the apple tree is essential to maintain the best characteristics of the tree in terms of plant health and ease of harvesting the fruits. With pruning we are going to get an apple tree with a better distribution of the sap, greater use of nutrients and as a consequence of this larger and sugary fruits.
The most common way of pruning the apple tree is by leaving the tree with a conical shape. This conical shape is characterized by having a structure in which there is a central branch on which fruitful secondary branches are born.
Let’s see the different types of apple tree pruning.
APPLE TREE PLANTATION PRUNING
The pruning of the apple tree begins when it acquires about 60 cm in height or greater and presents between 5 and 7 horizontal secondary branches or at a small upward angle.
The planting pruning procedure consists of removing very low secondary branches (to form the lower trunk of the tree), those branches that can intersect, and branches whose angle (mentioned above) is too inclined upwards, as can be seen in the image above. The rest of secondary branches should not be trimmed.
In the plantation pruning, only the strictly necessary branches have to be eliminated.
PRUNING THE APPLE TREE FOR THE FORMATION OF FUTURE BRANCHES
In the formation pruning, all the stems that grow upwards at a pronounced angle (greater than 60º) will be eliminated. In addition, the tertiary branches will be trimmed (they come out of the secondary branch buds), including new secondary branches from the central trunk.
In formation pruning , as in plantation pruning , the branches that we are not going to cut must be respected, avoiding their trimming, to avoid their regrowth.
Secondary branches with a good growth angle should not be cut down or trimmed, as this would stimulate their growth.
Formation pruning will last for two years from the time of planting the apple tree.
The 60 cm rule : the central branch should not protrude more than 60 cm from the highest secondary branch. In this way you are controlling the height of the tree and avoiding future harvesting problems.
The continuation of pruning will consist of maintaining the same structure of the apple tree with a conical shape, with the indications of the formation pruning except with the following exception.
Suckers that come out of the main trunk, and below the first secondary branch, must be eliminated . These pacifiers are easily recognizable, you won’t go wrong removing them.
PRUNING THE APPLE TREE FOR MAINTENANCE
Maintenance pruning begins four years after the apple tree was planted . The tree is close to reaching its maximum production, and around this time it reaches its maximum size.
Maintenance pruning is annual. It consists of eliminating new branches that form from the main trunk and secondary branches through buds.
Some secondary branches will also need to be trimmed. You will know the exact cutting point since you have to respect the conical shape of the tree at all times. If at any time a branch grows too large and falls out of the conical structure, it is trimmed and period.
The apple will continue to grow with the formation of new branches. It will be trimmed with maintenance pruning.
With your apple tree well pruned, you only have to fertilize it correctly and protect it from pests and diseases.