Not all fruit trees are cut at the same time. For some, a stimulating spring cut is recommended, for others, a calming summer cut. There are fruit trees that are sensitive to pruning and very well tolerated. All have a dormant period between October (after leaf fall) and mid-January, during which they should not prune fruit trees. The sap flow has stopped, the trees aren’t growing and so they can’t close the cuts either. Wound tissue does not form again until May, until then the trees are helplessly at the mercy of invading pathogens.
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Late winter to spring
With a fruit tree pruning in late winter, the growth of the fruit tree is stimulated. The earlier you cut, the stronger the tree will grow. That’s due to rising temperatures from the end of January, kickstarting the sap pressure. Long periods of frost are becoming rarer and less likely, and the risk of freezing and drying out is decreasing. Only in really cold regions should you wait until mid-February before pruning fruit trees, otherwise the pruning season starts at the end of January. Under no circumstances should you cut at temperatures below minus five degrees. Cut from the end of January:
- Freshly planted young trees
Pure spring cut
Sensitive fruit trees are cut immediately before they sprout. Alternatively, you can even cut during flowering. If you cut too early, the risk of drying out is very high, and this should be avoided. Cut just before sprouting:
During flowering, the young trees of the following fruit trees are cut:
At this time it is easy to see how many flowers have fallen victim to the late frosts. The maintenance cut is then better carried out in the summer.
In early summer, the sap pressure dries up again, which is why you can then cut well again. If cut from June, the wounds do not bleed and remain dry. In addition, the wounds are sealed off internally, even with larger cuts. Wound tissue also often forms at the edges of the cut. Cut exclusively in summer:
- Sweet cherry
Summer pruning can also be useful for other fruit trees. For example, spindle trees are cut in summer, as are espaliers.
Prune to encourage flowering
The leaf and flower buds for the next year are formed in the fruit trees as early as summer. In July, the process is usually cut off. An early summer pruning encourages the formation of flower buds below an intersection. Pruning takes place from mid-June to early July. This year’s shoots are shortened to 5 to 10 cm long cones. These cones sprout after the fruit tree is pruned, but the shoots remain significantly shorter. Flower buds are formed along the cone, which becomes the spur. However, no flowers would form on uncut long shoots. In addition to the increased flowering, this cut has another positive aspect. Shoots that would otherwise have to be removed because they grow too steeply or simply compete are usefully integrated.
- Early pruning of fruit trees, from mid-June to early July
- Shorten this year’s shoots to 5 to 10 cm long cones
- Flowering short shoots form
- Long shoots, on the other hand, do not form flowers
Prune to pacify growth
A summer cut does not only have advantages. In the process, a large number of leaves are also removed, which are then no longer available for the tree’s energy production. Fewer reserve substances can be stored in the root. Budding in the following spring remains weaker. In the case of strong-growing fruit trees, growth can be calmed down in this way. So if the summer pruning is not carried out until August, the plants will only sprout from the cutting points in exceptional cases. After mid-September, however, you should no longer use scissors or saws. When pruning later, the wounds are not closed because the trees are already in the dormant phase. Under no circumstances should you prune during hot and/or very dry periods in July or August, because then there is a risk of sunburn inside the crown.
- After pruning the fruit tree, there is a weaker budding in spring
- It is ideal for fast-growing trees
- Summer pruning in August
- Do not prune after mid-September
- Do not cut during very hot and/or very dry periods
Prune to remove excess shoots
If you are cutting in the summer, you should also remove shoots that would have to go in the spring anyway. In this way, you only stimulate and strengthen desired shoots in spring. What is difficult with the summer cut is recognizing the crown and its structure. Without leaves on the tree, however, this is much easier. You always start with the cut from the top and the outside and finally work your way inwards. You have to be able to imagine where there is a gap when you take out a shoot.
- Pruning to stimulate and strengthen budding
- It takes imagination
The pruning date for the fruit tree depends on what you want to achieve with the pruning. Do you want to promote flowering, remove superfluous shoots or calm down or promote growth? These questions decide when to cut.