Why Prune Fruit Trees

The first time I saw my father prune a fruit tree and cut a foot off a branch that had worked so hard to grow, I almost cried! It seemed so counterintuitive to cut, when the purpose of a tree was to grow. Later my dad explained that only by pruning, can the tree have healthy growth and bear healthier fruit. What a lesson for us to be reminded of from these trees; when things are taken away, this discipline makes us stronger and healthier people. Later as my dad continued to prune the trees in our backyard orchard, I learned about the other reasons. So why prune fruit trees? Tree health, managing structure and shape, and managing fruit production are some of the main reasons why.

1. Manage Structure & Shape

  • When you prune your tree into a certain shape, the structural integrity improves. Not only do the roots become stronger but the chance of damage from storms and other events decreases.
  • Additionally, certain fruit trees require a certain shape for optimal growth and fruit production. For example apple trees need a pyramidal shape while peach trees need an open vase shape.
  • Moreover, certain growers prune a tree for a certain aesthetic, such as a cordon, candelabra, or a boxwood shape.
Why prune: manage structure and shape

2. Tree Health

  • By removing dead, diseased or damaged wood you decrease the chance of the disease spreading or further damage happening. When branches are crossing or touching one another, this area can become an entry point for infection. Therefore, when you cut off branches that are damaged or can potentially damage, such as inward or upward growing branches, other limbs will grow in more optimal places and damage will be minimized.
  • Moreover, the improved air circulation will help remove moisture. Consequently, there will be less of a chance of fungal infections and other air-borne diseases.
Why prune? tree health

3. Manage Fruit Production

  • By pruning, you can allow sunlight to reach the leaves and fruits. Therefore not only will the leaves and buds get the needed sunlight, but the fruits will also ripen and color more fully.
  • Moreover, since pruning encourages new fruiting wood to grow, this will help improve the quality of the fruit since fruit grows best on wood that is 2-5 years old.
Why prune? manage fruit production

We hope you have a great time pruning!

If you would like to grow some fruit trees, check out different varieties here.

View this video on youtube here.