Pruning

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Pruning

Postby Lochside Yogi » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:12 pm

I have recently moved to a property with nearly a dozen apple trees(eating and cooking) plus one pear tree. I moved in just as the fruit was coming to it's end, although one stubborn apple managed to stay on the tree until xmas! I found that when I tried to pick the fruit the best ones were at the top and beyond my reach because the trees have not been pruned for many years, if at all! Looking through books I have found some advise on annual pruning but nothing on heavy pruning of overgrown trees. How agressive can I afford to be, and what are the consequences of getting it wrong? Don't want to loose the benefits of gaining so many mature trees. Has anyone out there had experience of this?
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Re: Pruning

Postby GeorgeSalt » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:37 pm

I would be cautious with hard pruning mature trees, perhaps this year identifying the branches that need to be pruned and taking down about a third of them. The next third next year, and the final third the year after. The worst that can happen if you go at ot too hard is that the tree may die, but more is likely that they just sulk for a year or two with very little fruit.

There is a plan b.. those extending fruit picker poles are quite good. We use them on our pear tree and a friends apple tree. So if you just do a third of your hard pruning this year, you can hopefully still pick from the taller branches.
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Re: Pruning

Postby oldjerry » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:47 pm

OK,you say they've not been pruned for many years,so just how big(height,spread) are they ? The RHS are the top people for fruit advice,and they include resurecting neglected trees in some of their pruning manuals.So try and find one in the library.Meanwhile,here's a few preliminaries:
Whenever you prune cut out dead and diseased branches first.Next,remove any branches that obviously cross, 'open up' the tree.Try to cut ,either with a good saw,or the best pruners you can afford,at an angle away from the tree(helps shed the rain).Carry a rag with bleach/surgical spirit and clean the saw/pruners after each tree.Be aware that some apples are tip fruiters,and therefore require much less pruning.
Presumably you don't know the varieties,if you find an apple day,(yearly here in Tenbury) you'll find someone who can tell your variety just by looking at the fruit.
Lastly, announce to your newly aquired trees that henceforth they will be loved and cherished,by stripping the grass around them in a circle of 3' radius,and mulching heavily with some delicious compost.

Lucky old you,I guess you bought the place because of the trees?........I would have done too. BWs
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Re: Pruning

Postby boboff » Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:00 am

I think with 12 trees, you could afford to do every other one or one in three, and prune it hard back to where you want it to be, and do it soon.

You maybe will not get much fruit from these this year, but the others will hopefully fruit.

Alternatively do what I did with a big Crab apple last year and just hard prune one half of it, the other half I will do this year ( so 2 years in between if that makes sense)

I don't know about you, but when I get my pruning head on I always end up taking away more than I should!
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Re: Pruning

Postby Mrs Moustoir » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:34 pm

Lochside Yogi - just to encourage you - when we moved into our house in France 10 years ago, we didn't realise that we had an orchard of over 40 trees! We knew there were SOME fruit trees but not quite so many.

The brambles were thick and completely swamped the orchard and we spent our first year hacking them back to reveal the completely neglected trees. Basically. we then did as Oldjerry says - taking out the dead and crossing branches and generally getting the trees back to a sensible shape. We didn't really know quite what we were doing and probably pruned them at the wrong time of year but the trees were quite forgiving and we still had a small crop in the first year after the pruning.

By the second year, we were knee deep in apples.
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Re: Pruning

Postby Lochside Yogi » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:18 pm

Thanks alot for all your help and words of encouragement. I have found a copy of the rhs pruning book on amazon secondhand for 1p plus postage! I have bought several books s/h from there for just a few pence, it's almost as good as buying from a charity shop, but you have the advantage of finding the book you want. The apple trees were not the only reason for choosing this house but were certainly a deciding factor. Wherever we moved to I wanted to plant fruit trees straightaway to benefit in a few years time,but these trees mean fruit this year! You can't go to a garden centre and buy an apple tree this mature, it's a real bonus. The size of the trees varies alot from a couple about 6ft tall upto one at the side of the house I can barely walk under because of low side branches, that is as tall as the apex of the roof! (It is a bungalow but even so.....) Two of the trees are trying to rest their branches on the top of the greenhouse so they are definitely a priority. Robin.
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Re: Pruning

Postby gray_bale » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:45 pm

As a side issue, I have never understood how anyone can sell books for a 1p. I have bought lots of good gardening books that way.
With 40 years experience the goodlife normally ends up costing money one way or the other, and a bad back ???

Check out http://www.balesfield.co.uk/
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Re: Pruning

Postby Lochside Yogi » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:19 pm

I don't understand it either but I'm not going to complain! Great way to buy books, just need to make some more bookshelves to cope :wink:
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Re: Pruning

Postby oldjerry » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:40 pm

Two of the trees are trying to rest their branches on the top of the greenhouse so they are definitely a priority. Robin.[/quote]

Apropos of bugger all, I'd suggest that any tree of any size ( i.e. above 6ft) doesn't want to be within16ft( min) of your GH,and preferably a lot further away.So start up the chain saw,and prepare to have pleasant smelling open fire next Christmas!
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