Perhaps you were fortunate to get a new pruning tool for Christmas. A previous article encourages sharpening and keeping your tools functioning. New or old tools can be put to use pruning fruit trees now when the weather is cooperative.

Fruit trees need pruning to create strong limbs that can support a plentiful fruit crop. Some fruit trees require extensive pruning every year, while others need very little. Gardeners may be reluctant to prune without understanding basic principles and objectives. These can be found and learned through K-State Research and Extension.

Two new publications have been developed to aid in guiding fruit tree pruning. These are “Pruning Apple and Pear Trees” and “Pruning Peaches, Plums, Cherries and other Stone Fruits.” An online video is another resource. All can be found on the ksre.ksu.edu website.

Pears are the most dependable fruit producer. They bloom late enough to not often be damaged by frost. Pruning is minimal and done to encourage lateral branch growth. Spreading the branches to provide a more open canopy by use of braces or supports is commonly required.

Peach trees require the most pruning. Fruit buds are formed on last year’s growth. Annual pruning to remove 50% of the tree stimulates growth for those fruit buds. Stone fruits like peaches often bloom prior to the last frost damaging fruit production. Pruning after bloom to remove fruitless branches will benefit the owner.

Many fruit tree owners are a little leery about pruning on their tree. You won’t go wrong by pruning to open up the tree canopy. Any mistakes can be fixed with ongoing tree growth. Some pruning is going to be better than none.

Management of fruit trees is constant. The majority of pruning is done while the tree is dormant. Some pruning is likely necessary during the growing season.

You can find out more on this and other horticulture topics by going to www.ksre.ksu.edu. And you can 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 e-mail: geyeston@ksu.edu.

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