Fruit pruning demo teaches how to trim trees properly

By Gregg Eyestone

The Manhattan Area Garden Show is today from noon to 4 p.m. It is free and rain barrels are available for $10. I hope to see you at Pottorf Hall in CiCo Park today.

Now is the time to get your fruit trees pruned. Even though it has been good weather this winter, I’m just getting around to it. I’m conducting a demonstration on fruit pruning on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 10:30 to noon. The location is 7670 Anderson Avenue west of Manhattan. I will be showing how to prune and we can discuss other fruit management considerations.

Annual pruning is necessary for healthy plant growth and best distribution of fruit loads. This seems futile for the years when there is little fruit to harvest. Although neglected trees will become even less productive.

The K-State Research and Extension’s publication “Pruning Fruit Trees” is a good resource to use. It is good to review it before pruning each season. This publication will be available at the demonstration site as well as at the Extension office and on our website.

One purpose of pruning is to remove disease or damaged limbs. This is to improve overall plant health.

Thinning of branches allows for better light and air movement through the plant. Both are necessary for good plant care and fruit production.

Pruning cuts are made the same as with all woody plants. Larger limbs are removed with three cuts. The first cut is made underneath the branch 6 to 12 inches from the point of attachment.

Then cut from the top down slightly further out. This cut will prevent tearing the bark on the remaining branch or trunk. Remove the remaining stub with a cut outside the branch collar. A circular wound would be left which doesn’t need any pruning paint applied.

Smaller branches are trained to spread wide and towards sunlight. This is done by directional pruning or physically supporting the branch.

Demonstrations are a good method to learn pruning. Publications are helpful but actual training can be very useful. If you can’t make it to the demonstration, a video on pruning is on our website at under “Hot Topics” and you can contact me for assistance.

If you would like additional information on a horticulture topic, please contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension. Gregg may be contacted by calling 537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or through e-mail at and at

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