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Yet another pruning question

Posted by steve333 z6 CO Mountains (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 28, 12 at 15:15

Well it is pruning time up at my place (8200' elevation in the CO Rockies), and I have been reading up here and other places on the latest pruning advise. Unfortunately I seem to have broken the cardinal rule of "never ask more than one expert," because there seems to be quite a few varying opinions out there on pruning techiques ;-)

So here are my questions, if folks can offer answers:

1. I have quite a few apples/pears/cherries which were planted last spring. Our growing season is short, which might influence the answer on this. I am wondering whether to start pruning the new trees this spring or wait another year? (I had planned on waiting a year on the trees that did not have good growth last year)

2. A couple of the trees were badly formed when planted (forks, low branches, etc). I did not prune at planting time in order to give the tree as much leaf area as possible. I am leaning towards doing some shaping of these trees this year. Yes or no?

3. There may have been some winter die back on the end branches of some of the trees (not as bad as I first thought a few weeks ago, but definitely there on a few). I was thinking of waiting until the trees leaf out (or at least bud swell) to do any pruning; so that I can be sure what's still alive and not. However pruning non-dormant trees seems to be a controversy. What are the advantages/disadvantages of doing it? Suggestions?

4. I have some more mature trees, which have not been pruned in a few years. Is there a rule of thumb as to what percentage of the branches can be safely removed per year? And when to do this on these older trees (when still dormant or after leaf out)?

Thanks in advance.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Yet another pruning question

You can prune all your trees right now or whenever you feel like it. No need to prune dormant or non-dormant -- it really doesn't matter too much. Anytime from now through July is just fine.

I cut all my baby trees back real hard at planting time and in each of two seasons since, and they all turned out fine and better structured because of it.

You can delay pruning until leaf-out if you want to know where your dead wood is -- not a bad idea. But if you know of any dead wood, you can cut it out right now.

Rule of thumb is to prune no more than 30% of the total wood per year. But if you should decide to prune a little more than that, I wouldn't worry about it and I promise your tree won't die. It will just look a little odd for a year or two or three while it re-establishes itself, that's all. You can do this at any time from the cold of winter through about July.

Don't be afraid. Just do it. You and your trees will both be happier for it.

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