Are you thinking about pruning your fruit trees?

Monday, March 30, 2020

Typically, March is one of the best times of the year to prune your fruit trees. This is because you can see the true shape and form of your tree while the leaves are off of it.

The ultimate goal should be to have a tree that is open enough that a bird could easily fly through it. When you get started pruning the tree, you should begin by realizing that you only want to remove up to one-third of the canopy a year. Removing too much in one year can be detrimental to the tree.

As you start to prune, begin by walking around it and surveying its current appearance. You should then start to remove any small vertical limbs that are growing off the roots, trunk or main branches. These small vertical limbs are sometimes referred to as “suckers” and are usually around a half-an-inch thick or less. These limbs will never be able to produce fruit.

After removing the small vertical limbs, you should walk around the tree and try to remove any other limbs that are either crossing over another limb, growing vertical and not out, or any limb that is rubbing against another. This would also be when you should remove any limb that has been damaged by a storm or disease pressure.

Fire blight can be identified as dry, blackened growth that often has old leaf material still attached. Fire blight cankers are sunken lesions on the trunk and shoots that are key spots where the bacteria survived the winter. Trees that are infected with fire blight bacteria should be pruned during March. One drop of the tan honeydew ooze caused by fire blight will contain one billion bacteria. Fruit trees that continually suffer from fire blight should be culled.

Please remember to clean your pruning tools with a 10-percent bleach solution between each cut to help prevent the spread of this disease. You can find more information about fire blight by looking at Purdue publication BP-30, Fire Blight on Fruit Trees in the Home Orchard (

Another item to be on the lookout for is Black knot. Black knot is caused by a fungus that results in small, light-brown swellings on the twigs or branches. These swellings form during the first fall or spring after infection has taken place. If you see Black knot on your tree, it should be removed. Black knot is most common in plums, prunes and cherries.

Lastly, as you are pruning your tree, remember to remove any mummy fruits. Mummy fruits are dried-up fruit bodies that have stayed on the tree throughout the winter. These mummy fruits can be a home for diseases and should be removed and destroyed.

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  • Thank you for this story,I read a lot online.Small FYI like this are very helpful and parts will stay with you for ever.

    -- Posted by latewithtacos on Fri, May 15, 2020, at 11:16 PM
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