On March 6, I will lead a fruit tree pruning demonstration. That program will begin at 1 p.m. at 13999 Tuttle Creek Blvd., which also is Kansas Highway 77 near Randolph.
Annual pruning is necessary for healthy plant growth and best distribution of fruit loads.
K-State Research and Extension has a publication on pruning apples and pears and another publication on pruning peaches and other stone fruits. These are good to review before pruning each season.
Both publications 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 6-12 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.
Fruit trees have different growth habits. Removing around a third of an apple tree is sufficient for good fruiting. Peaches need half of its limbs removed to stimulate new growth for the following fruit season. Pear, cherry, apricot and plum are pruned to maintain vigor and will vary from year to year.
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 our Kansashealthyyards.org.
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.