Overgrown Apricot Tree -- Need helpful pruning tips

maiwyckJanuary 15, 2013

I have a very tall, overgrown apricot tree that needs pruning (2 trees actually). I know about the basics of pruning but would love some specific answers on how to tackle the height of the tree. I've attached photos to show the clusters of branches in the top portion of the tree. Should I cut at the base of these limbs or in the middle? I'm not quite sure how to shorten the tree without cutting off important branches.

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Here's a closer look

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 3:34PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

for what purpose????

fruit production.. go talk to the peeps in the fruit forum ...

otherwise.. lets get down to brass tacks.. it really should go ... in that space..

it already looks like it was 'topped' once... you can see the prior wounds ... i suppose.. you have nothing to lose by having it done again ...

where are you???


    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 6:54PM
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I'm in Southern California. The tree on the left of the detail photo is the apricot and it fruited really nicely the year before last, but nothing this year. I thought maybe it was because it needed to be pruned properly. I don't know the history of its pruning, as its a rental property.
So, yeah, I would love it to produce some fruit again. I'll ask the fruit forum about it.
But the other tree is also a question unto itself...I'm not sure what kind of tree it even is. It has blossoms similar to the apricot but the leaves are different and has zero fruit production. I think the blossoms are a deep pink color. Any suggestions?
You say the trees should be taken out? Why is that? I'm not sure the owner would even entertain that but I'm very curious why that would be. I love learning more about this stuff!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 11:00PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

Post on the Fruit tree forum and the California forum. There are a lot of knowledgeable fruit tree types on the CA forum, for example. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 11:04PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

dad had one here in MI for 20 years.... only twice did it set fruit ... the blooms are extremely touchy in terms of temps .. the slightest frost will make the flowers abort ... so that would be the simple suggestion as to why it fruited one year.. and perhaps not the next ... even in CA .... [any recollection of the citrus folks going crazy.. the year it did not set fruit????]

i would suggest that a 2 year history is not enough info to jump to any conclusions ... and surely not a reason to leap to pruning to solve the problem... which it wont.. if it was a temp issue ....

also.. pruning for fruit production.. usually does NOT make for a pretty tree ....

if you are not the owner.. its really not your problem ... and i dont know why you would want to interject the topic into your landlord/lessee relationship ....

the tree is grossly large for such a tiny space ... if you consider that the root mass could be twice as large as that above.. you wonder where it is getting water and air ... as compared to all that concrete ...

at least its not a 100 tree.. that will crush the house ... killing you in your sleep ... if it fails.. it should not do that much damage .. and its not your problem anyway ... if i were the landlords ins agent.. i might not be happy about the risk ...

also.. sooner or later.. there is the possibility .. that it might cause those walls to fail ... the only issue being.. in whose lifetime ... lol ...

i only bother to mention all this.. because you had a thirst for knowledge.. bottom line.. i would not invest anything in this tree .. and be saving money for future removal ... as even i dont think i could get it out of there safely/easily ...

i have 5 acres.. and CA lot sizes mystify me ... thats quite a front yard you have there.. lol ... but at least you have one.. compared to apartment folks..

if i had that tiny a spot.. i would have some type of potted collection of plants to play with ... rather than two 20 foot trees ...

have a great day ...


    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 7:17AM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

Ken part of the problem in CA is lack of water - no summer rain and generally water-scarce in terms of aquifers and entrapment. You would not want to take care of 5 acres if you had nothing to water it with. And contemplate 5 acres with no lawn. Add to that the cost of the land and voila: small lots. The large lots are typically those outside city limits that have pasture or woodland or something that does not require the kind of cultivation that you can accomplish with summer rain and ample irrigation.

Apricots might be alternate-year bearers - not sure.

This thread has degenerated to topics that are likely of no help to the OP!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 9:56AM
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Small place to have 2 trees. The problem is, trying to reduce their size after years of no pruning is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. It is theoretically possible, but good luck with that.

Apricots are not alternate year bearers, but most varieties make only a few without another tree for pollination, hence the 2 trees. If there are other Apricots around, then you may only need one tree.

It looks like the tree was last pruned about 3 years ago. Trees produce the best fruit when regularly pruned, so at the very least you can thin the branches. Since it is not your tree, you should get the owners permission before attempting pruning. It will involve drastic reduction (but not all at once) of the amount of tree you have there. Good lick. I would start by reducing the canopy by 1/3. Or, you can save yourself the headache, do nothing, and enjoy the nice flowers and the occasional fruit.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 8:22PM
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Thanks so much everyone! All very interesting insights and very helpful to me. I love GardenWeb!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 3:24PM
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