Pruning of the Japanese medlar. Essential work of this fruit tree

The Japanese medlar () is a tropical fruit that we can grow in Spain in the Mediterranean basin, towards the east and south of the peninsula, places with temperate climates that allow cultivation.In this article we are going to focus on the pruning of the medlar. , an essential task in the formation of the tree and its subsequent maintenance to ensure a good balance in crown density, an essential tree sanitation year after year and abundant fruiting, whether it is for productive or recreational purposes in your garden.


An unpruned medlar can easily reach 9-10 meters in height. If we don’t want to collect medlars at dangerous heights and let the tree get out of control, this is what we should do from the early years. Also, the weight of some branches can be excessive (high fruiting) and we can have a dislike of falling branches. This in a home garden can be dangerous.

First of all, you should know that a medlar does not bear fruit from the beginning like almost all fruit trees. It takes an average of 3 years from planting to bear fruit if the growing conditions are adequate. Things like the climate, orientation, irrigation, type of soil etc.

In this first period in which the tree acquires its full vegetative capacity in order to start fruiting, it is vitally important to carry out a good formation pruning, which will ensure a good medlar for years to come.

If you want to know more about the cultivation of the Japanese medlar in all its dimensions, we recommend the article dedicated to it.


Formation pruning should be in a shrubby vase . The Japanese medlar is left to grow with its natural size, although as in all pruning, we will limit both by number of primary branches and by height.

  • Limiting the primary branches achieves balance in the tree and a more uniform incidence of light throughout the crown.
  • Limiting the height of any fruit tree has to do with improving the ease of harvesting the fruit at harvest. In the photo, it would already be advisable to remove the upper emergent branches to control the height of the crown.

As a recommendation, 4 main branches are usually left at different levels, but it is not unreasonable to leave 5 or 6. Depending on the purpose of the tree, since they are very good for shade and perhaps in the garden you are more interested in a wider canopy. If it is for productive purposes, it is usually limited to 3 or 4 and a height of no more than 3 or 4 meters at most.

Glass structure from 50 cm from the base. Photo by: Forest and Kim Starr


From the third year, if all goes well, the medlar will begin to bear fruit. From there, we will continue with the formation pruning to a lesser extent, but we begin the maintenance pruning to ensure good fruiting. Good does not mean abundant. We must find a balance.

The annual pruning, from the third year when it bears fruit, is carried out at the end of September and during October just after the summer period.

The four basic guidelines for this maintenance pruning are:

  • If the garden space is limited or you do not want it to exceed certain limits, do not be afraid to limit the lateral growth of the crown, even if it means cutting long branches, yes, always above a new shoot if you want to keep the arm , which I imagine yes since it will be one of those who have left training or at least secondary. The branches that you do not want to keep because they destabilize the crown, cut them whole.
  • Remove any diseased or dead branches . My procedure than before. Cut the branch at a healthy area and above a shoot if you want to keep that branch. If the branch has no solution, you will have to do a total pruning to save the rest. It is usual to have to do some pruning of the medlar due to fire blight ( Erwinia amylovora ).
  • Thinning is essential . Control the size of the fruit. Do a thinning. The loquat tends to give a lot of joys, has an abundant flowering and the number of fruits per tree can be excessive. This results in smaller fruits. In the end the tree has to distribute nutrients in more units of fruit. They are simple math. As a recommendation, it is usual to leave between 4 and 8 fruits per terminal (panicle in this case). You yourself will see those that have the best appearance and size and you will eliminate the rest. A good thinning is essential so that the size of the fruits you leave increases to almost double.
  • Annual maintenance pruning consists of limiting the excessive growth of vegetative part , which is known as a canopy, so that the light enters the entire tree as evenly as possible. This is the most common loquat pruning and the one that best maintains the balance of the tree if everything else is well done. We try to eliminate branches that intersect or others that do not follow the branching pattern that we have in mind. In this case the branch is cut from the joint to prevent new shoots from pulling again. This pruning is done after harvest. Good pruning shears are the foundation for clean cuts without tears.

Excessive load on the panicle. Different sizes and stages of maturation are observed. Photo by: Michael Gras, M.Ed.


Finally we have the last pruning of the medlar to be carried out. The regeneration one . If your tree is very old, the branches are unproductive, it is time to regenerate. This pruning is drastic. You are practically without a tree. Either it can be done totally, that is, without leaving any main branch and starting over, or the tree can be cut , cutting half the branches

One final tip. If we bag some panicles, we avoid the pecking of birds and insects and the ripening of the fruits will be faster and they will get more sweetness. Yes indeed. The ornamental part falls down a bit. You will have to assess them yourself.

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