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|Fruit Tree Pruning
I'm getting a lot questions and emails about pruning of fruit trees… Those "in the know" probably already did a lot of pruning, especially on the stone fruit trees like peaches and plums. But even the pears and apples can also be pruned at this time. So, without further ado, here is a lot of great information about pruning of Peach trees from Texas A&M. But remember, all these same rules can be applied to just about any fruit tree including citrus.
FROM TEXAS A&M
The main idea in pruning is to remove old, gray-colored, slow-growing shoots, which are non-fruitful. However, leave one-year-old, 18- to 24-inch red bearing shoots. Removing 40 percent of the tree annually stimulates new growth each spring. The second objective of pruning is to lower the fruiting zone to a height that makes hand harvesting from the ground possible. A third objective is to open the center of the tree; this increases air circulation, reduces disease pressure, and allows sunlight into the tree to accelerate fruit color. Another goal of pruning is to remove diseased or dead shoots, rootstock suckers, and water shoots.
How to Prune a Mature Peach Tree
Remove all hanger shoots, rootstock suckers, and water sprouts in the lower three feet of the tree. This stripping of lower growth clears a path for herbicide applications, and allows air circulation.
Remove all shoots above 7 feet other than red 18- to 24-inch fruiting shoots. Cuts need to be at selected points where the scaffold and sub-scaffold limbs extend upward at a 45- to 50-degree angle. Cuts which leave limbs sideways at a 90-degree angle should be avoided.
Remove all shoots which grow toward the inside of the tree.
Remove all old, gray wood in the 3- to 7-foot fruit production zone.
Additional Hints on Pruning Peaches
1. Always remove bull shoots in the middle of the trees whenever they develop. Summer pruning immediately after harvest can help reduce bull shoots in the top of the tree.
2. Wear gloves, long sleeves, eye protection, and caps that cover the ears, to prevent injury.
3. Pruning paint is not needed.
4. Peach pruning should remove 40 percent of the tree each winter. This reduces the number of fruit on the tree, and stimulates strong growth of fruiting wood each year.
5. The key to long peach-tree life in Texas is planting in deep, well-drained, sandy soil, control of peach-tree borer, scale insects, and weeds, and correct pruning. Fruiting will depend on escaping spring frosts.
Interestingly enough, I will get a bunch of other "pruning" questions about a bunch of other trees -fruiting and not - because of this tip sheet. I also stumbled across a "links" website that will link you to a "pruning" site of your choice… check it out
Until next issue, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
exclusively weekend mornings from 8 to noon
on Talkradio 950 KPRC.
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