Pruning Apple Trees In The Spring.
Pruning apple trees you do not want to prune them too severely in the spring months if they are not used to it,as any pruning done at this time will promote growth and over pruning could cause it to produce lots of vertical water shoots which have lots of leafy growth and are not very fruitful.
However when pruning an apple you first want to remove any dead, diseased or damaged branches followed over by any crossing over branches.Now you can see where you are going.If they have not been touched for some time this may be enough for this season.
If you want to prune further you want to bear in mind with apples that there are two main types spur bearers – fruit is borne on short growths along the branches and in pruning you want to build up a spur system – and tip bearers.The tip bearers bare fruit at the tips of the shoots(and on some spurs) so you don’t want to cut off all the tips as you won’t get as much fruit.
Each cut you make you want to cut back to an outward facing bud so that you make the tree into a goblet shape.Pruning to produce an open goblet shape helps the sun to get into the heart of the tree to ripen the fruit.
How to tell whether you have a tip bearer or a spur bearer? It comes down to how plump and fluffy the buds are. Fruit bud tend to be grey and slightly hairy and plumper than ordinary buds.
Each year you want to take no more than a third of the old wood out – less if they have been neglected.
If you get loads of these vertical watershoots as a result of pruning they can be taken off in the summer as summer pruning does not promote growth.However don’t take too many as this will weaken the tree.
Generally with apples it helps to keep them mulched and weed free at the base as this will help cropping.