Are you tired of climbing ladders to reach the crop on your fruit trees? How can you keep backyard fruit trees at an easy-to-care-for height? How should you shape young trees?
Summer pruning is an easy and convenient method of controlling the growth of backyard fruit trees. Some advocates of this kind of pruning recommend keeping fruit trees at a height of about 12 feet, which allows for ease of care and harvesting. Pruning of rampant spring growth also allows light and air to reach lower branches. This improved air circulation may reduce disease, and additional light can help promote lower growing fruit.
In comparison to traditional winter pruning, pruning when there is fruit on the tree serves to thin an overabundant crop. It also helps you determine on what age wood the tree sets fruit (one-, two or three-year-old wood, e.g.) Keeping trees at a smaller size makes available nutrients more likely to be used for fruit production rather than foliage.
This Saturday, you can attend a free presentation on summer pruning given by the Master Gardeners at the Seven Sisters demonstration garden, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, from 10 a.m. to noon. Demonstrations of pruning the garden’s young trees (which have been planted with two or three varieties in one hole) will take place. Master Gardeners will also talk about more traditional winter pruning and give pointers for reducing size of older trees. Come prepared with sunscreen, water and hats, and bring a folding chair if possible.
For more information on summer pruning, check out the website of Dave Wilson, http://www.davewilson.com/homegrown/BOC_explained.html. Basic information on pruning and on shaping of neglected fruit trees can be found at http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/The_Big_Picture/Pruning_&_Training/