This past week, I had a question about pruning and when to prune fruit trees. We tend to forget about pruning but it’s one of the most important steps in our orchards, vineyards, brambles, etc. It’s just as important as spraying and even picking.
Fruit trees, vineyards, brambles and blueberries benefit from an annual pruning from the time they’re planted and for years to come.
Prior to spring growth, prune out the dead, diseased or insect-infested wood to reduce pest problems during the growing season. Pruning helps to increase air movement within the tree canopy. Thus reducing the amount of time foliage remains wet from rain or dew and also lessens the likelihood of diseases that could develop under wet conditions. You also will get better spray coverage in an open canopy than a heavily shaded one.
Pruning also helps to promote high-quality fruit production. Moderate pruning each year helps to open up the tree or plant and allows sunlight to penetrate the plant canopy, thus encouraging formation of fruit buds for next year’s crop and promoting high quality fruit for this year.
Wait to prune fruit trees, grape vines, and brambles until the worst part of the winter weather is over. Late February or early March usually is the best time to prune here in Harlan County.
Don’t leave stubs because they act as an entry point for diseases. Contrary to popular belief and advertising, wound dressings don’t promote more rapid healing of pruning cuts. The wound will heal just fine if left untreated. Remember, the extent to which you prune young fruit trees will influence the onset of fruiting. Trees need foliage to grow and develop so pruning too severely will delay the time trees start to produce a crop.
However, taking time to properly prune and train a young fruit tree will pay off with production of high-quality fruit later.
On March 29 at 5:30 p.m., the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service will have a Home Fruit Production Workshop at the Harlan County Extension Depot. Dr. John Strang, from the University of Kentucky, will be discussing orchards, blueberries and brambles. If you have any questions or would like to register for this free workshop, please contact us here at the office.
For more information, call the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service office at 606-573-4464.
Jeremy Williams is the Harlan County extension agent for agriculture & natural resources. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.