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Cooperative Extension: Tree Fruits


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Growing Fruit Trees in Maine - Pruning

Pruning is an important part of tree fruit culture. Without pruning, the tree canopy becomes densely crowded with branches. To alleviate overcrowding and increase the amount of sunlight which is essential for strong flower bud development are two important goals of pruning. Shaping and controlling tree size are also common reasons for pruning.

Pruning should be done during the winter months or very early in spring while trees are still dormant. A small amount of pruning can be done in late summer, but severe pruning at this time can interfere with the development of winter hardiness.

The main purpose in pruning fruit trees is to give each branch enough space to grow without crowding others and to create space around each branch so that it receives enough sunlight to thrive. The choice of which branches to remove to achieve this can be confusing at first. Choice is commonly based on the position of the branch in relation to other branches, the vertical orientation of the branch and how many flower buds it bears. In addition, trees can be shaped to have a particular system of spacing and orientation of the limbs. These training systems also determine what to remove by pruning.

Consider safety when pruning any tree. Hire a professional to prune trees that are too tall to be safely reached from a ladder or to prune trees that have grown into power lines. Use the right ladder for outdoor terrain and follow safety protocol for the type of ladder in use. Avoid climbing trees since old limbs may be rotten and unable to support a person’s weight. Wearing goggles will protect your eyes from small branches and sawdust.

Training Systems

Types of Pruning Cuts

Flower Buds

Pruning Examples


How To Prune Apple Trees

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Contact Information

Cooperative Extension: Tree Fruits
5741 Libby Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5741
Phone: 207.581.3188, 1.800.287.0274 (in Maine) or 1.800.287.8957 (TDD)E-mail: extension@maine.edu
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1110
A Member of the University of Maine System