Proper Ways to Prune Trees in Your Orchard
Every orchard owner knows how much attention is needed to keep things under control in his or her property. On top of that, all the activities need to be performed in timely and well planned manner since even the minutest of them can mean the world of difference when it comes to the amount of fruit that will be produced. One of those activities that have the most impact on fruit production is pruning and here are the proper ways to perform it.
Pruning is in fact a series of different activities aimed at establishing the desired branch development direction and enhancing the actual growth in the chosen direction. Sounds complicated, but it really is not. It covers cutting of branches and removal of smaller limbs, as well as young buds, shoots and leaves, if needed. It impacts the longevity and production of fruits and helps prevent formation of week and narrow forks that often lead to tree splits.
Even thou summer pruning is not uncommon, winter is the time of the year reserved for best pruning results. One of the reasons lies the fact that without leaves it is far easier to do and especially to be precise at performing it, which is often crucial to pruning success. Also, pruning as late in winter as possible is strongly advisable in order to prevent or at least minimize the possibility of winter injuries. Another important notion, prune the trees that bloom the earliest last and vice versa.
Preparatory work is an important phase in the pruning operation. Three D’s are what requires your particular attention, that is, all damaged, dead or diseased parts of the tree need to be removed first. Next, if there are any sprouts growing from the body of the tree, they must go too since they only take away nutrition energy from the upper branches. The same applies to so-called water sprouts, perfectly vertical ones that often grow from main branches.
Proper pruning manner
Although it is an undeniable fact that different fruit trees ask for different pruning manner the focus will be on one type in particular. The reason for this is that it is the most appropriate and very efficient for the majority of trees found in our orchards. It involves two types of pruning cuts: heading and thinning and the way they are performed and the impact they make will be discussed in detail in the following paragraphs.
The main purpose of thinning is to help the air and sunlight reach the canopy and boost the production of fruit and reduce disease and pest issues. The first step is to remove the branches that grow downwards or intertwine with other branches. Next, if there are several branches growing from the same crotch, thin them in such a manner that you leave a single branch, the most developed one growing at the best possible angle. Finally, the thinning phase is over when every branch has between 6 and 12 inches of free space around it.
Heading is like giving your tree a new haircut. What this means is that the tops of the branches are cut in order to make the branches short and thick as they develop instead of long and thin, all in order to make sure they withstand the fruit load that will be produced. This usually means cutting off somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of length. In case there are particularly tall branches that need heading, using a boom lift would be the safest choice. The exact spot you make the cut is also important since it determines the direction the branch will continue to grow.
Once again, proper and timely pruning is essential for tree health, longevity and fruit production. By all means do it on regular basis and your orchard will surely be in good shape and productive.
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