Pruning Apple Trees | Pruning and Thinning for better quality fruits | Best practices

It’s possible to anticipate future
problems when shaping and pruning your fruit trees. Searching information on
your apple varieties is important as not all can be pruned the same way. For instance, if you leave long branches and too many flowers are pollinated, that
will cause heavy crop loads, on more productive varieties. If you don’t
anticipate these situations they will have to be corrected later, like I am
doing here, at the expense of important tree
resources. It’s always better to correct pruning
mistakes, even if the solutions seem a bit drastic. Failure to do so may result in young
tree exhaustion and heavy fruit loads, that thin branches can’t support. This is the same tree several weeks later and the problem still exists. You can’t forget that these fruits will grow and will gain weight. Even if you leave just
a few too many fruits on a thin branch, these will cause problems when they get bigger. Being too conservative
when correcting pruning mistakes will result in the need to remove some fruits,
at a later date. Reducing the length of
productive branches will help, although it also depends on the type
of tree shape you choose, when pruning and training your tree. For instance, when training apple trees
in the open center system, the main branches have no problem in supporting
the fruit load of short productive spurs. But, even with this pruning and training
system you will have to limit the length of secondary branches or the load
problems will still exist, in more productive apple varieties. In these cases, heading the branches or thinning excess fruits will still be needed,
to avoid problems. Thinning the fruit load can also be achieved by removing flowers
and can save resources, as the tree doesn’t have to start growing fruits,
that will have to be removed later. Fruiting spurs will produce clusters of
flowers that, when pollinated, will produce clusters of fruits. The density of spurs and resulting
clusters of flowers is determined by the pruning method and genetics of the
variety, among other factors. Some varieties are extremely productive and
will have to endure heavier fruit thinning or be pruned more aggressively. As apple trees produce fruits on older wood is important to be able to recognize
fruiting structures, like fruit buds and spurs. To secure the crop of next year, when
fruit thinning, take care to never remove the spur, just the fruits, that are attached
to the spur by the stem. Insect pollination, mainly through bees, is
essential to good fruit set. Flowering seasons are not necessarily the same
for each variety and can vary, even within the same tree. This makes thinning by removing flowers
not practical, even in the home orchard. Bad weather might also damage the
flowers that are pollinated. Unpollinated flowers are also not uncommon. If flowers are removed, some are not
pollinated and bad weather removes some of them, at a later date,
there is a risk of losing most of the crop. So, removing young fruits when they are yet small is the common practice,
for effective fruit thinning. Most apple varieties have a
tendency to form tight clusters of fruits. These clusters will have to be opened or the growing fruits will not develop well. When the fruits have short stems, some
crowded clusters can be so tight that air can’t circulate, which can cause fungal
problems and other diseases. Removing fruits can be done by cutting
or rotating the stem. Start by removing the smaller fruits
in the cluster. In less productive varieties you can
leave two or three fruits in each cluster, if there is enough space for
them to develop fully. In more productive varieties leave just
one or two fruits per spur and make sure there is enough space between
fruits, on the same branch. These are okay. Plenty of space, support and energy
resources for this fruits to grow. These are too crowded.
The branch won’t support them. They will lack resources or they won’t grow properly,
for lack of space. Always remove fruits that are deformed
or show signs of disease or insect damage. Coddling moth. apple maggot and
other pests will infect some fruits if pesticides are not used (which I avoid). When fruit thinning, find and remove
the affected fruits. Fruits of unthinned trees will be small
and some will not develop fully. Left on their own, unthinned trees will
drop many mature fruits, by mid-summer. Although older dwarf trees can support
heavy crops, thinner branches might be at risk or the trees might tip over, if
unbalanced by fruit loads. More productive varieties will
concentrate lots of fruit and branches will bend and
might break under the weight. Tip bearers and partial tip bearers
varieties, like Granny Smith, are more prone to this situation and will have to
be well pruned and thinned, to avoid it. Besides producing underdeveloped,
deformed and immature fruits, unthinned trees tend to be stressed
trying to grow all those fruits. They deplete their resources and are
more prone to biannual production, that is, they might only produce fruits
every two years. When planting two or three year old trees
don’t allow too many fruits, on these unpruned trees. They might grow
large fruits, that they can’t support, and this will stress the tree. If you are curious about a new variety
leave only a few fruits, so they can develop without
depleting the tree. This might slow its growth, though. Prune effectively and fruit thin early.
Adjust, according to your apple varieties and area weather. Only keep the fruits that the tree and
the branches can support without stress. If you were too conservative, when
fruit thinning secondary branches, remove the excess fruits
before the branches break. If you want to preserve more fruits in each branch,
on young trees, you will have to support the branches. The use of wire support makes guiding
the branches easier and some varieties will allow greater productivity, using
this method. Fruit quality is first determined by
genetic factors like apple variety and rootstock used. Environmental factors like soil,
light, temperature, humidity and wind, will also condition
the final result. Agricultural factors like training system, pruning,
fruit thinning, pollination, nutrition and irrigation, are the last set of factors
that determine fruit quality. So, pruning and thinning are only a small part of what makes a good fruit,
but it’s correct use will contribute decisively, for bigger and
better tasting fruits. Unpruned and and unthinned trees will
produce a large number of very small fruits. These smaller fruits will be more
susceptible to diseases and malformations and the trees will have
more tendency to biennial production. Energy will be used to concentrate
sugars in these bigger fruits, but also for adequate growing, without stressing
the trees. Nothing beats a fresh picked Apple,
sweet, firm and juicy. The result of good pruning
and fruit thinning practices. Thanks for watching Like, Subscribe, Comment and
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