Tim­ing is ev­ery­thing when prun­ing fruit trees

MAN­I­TOBA HY­DRO PAYS YOU TO IN­SU­LATE YOUR AT­TIC!

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - MICHAEL ALLEN

RE­CENTLY, I as­sisted a group of com­mu­nity vol­un­teers who wanted to know how to prop­erly prune or­chard fruit trees con­sist­ing of va­ri­eties of ap­ples and plums. We are cur­rently in a short pe­riod where the win­dow for early spring prun­ing is an op­por­tu­nity to do some prun­ing of trees and shrubs. Prun­ing of th­ese woody plants can be done while their buds are still dor­mant. How­ever, this sea­son is very short be­cause as the weather warms up and the ground starts to thaw, it will not be long be­fore the trees and shrubs will open up their win­ter buds. The open­ing of the buds is pop­u­larly called the “bud­ding” sea­son. The buds have been on the trees and shrubs since the mid­dle of sum­mer of last year. As soon as the weather warms up, prun­ing is not ad­vis­able, es­pe­cially in fruit trees, where they are highly sus­cep­ti­ble to po­ten­tially lethal tree dis­eases such as fire blight and ap­ple scab. The spores of th­ese dis­eases will be­come ac­tive with warmer weather. Plan on sharp­en­ing your prun­ing tools as you are get­ting ready to prune. If you are not familiar with how to sharpen your tools prop­erly, there is al­ways the In­ter­net to as­sist you. Ide­ally, you will need to know how to prune th­ese trees prop­erly. I will be hold­ing a course on the care and proper prun­ing of fruit trees on April 14. I will demon­strate the tech­niques of proper sharp­en­ing of prun­ing tools. You will need to call the Louis Riel School Di­vi­sion’s con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment to reg­is­ter for this course. This can be done on­line or by phone (204-237-8130 ). There will be other care and prun­ing cour­ses for woody shrubs and conif­er­ous ev­er­green trees later in April as well. There is an easy-to-learn strat­egy in prun­ing a fruit tree. Di­a­grams are pro­vided to stu­dents on how to do the prun­ing prop­erly. Start by re­mov­ing bro­ken and dead twigs and branches. Al­ways prune twigs and branches at their point of ori­gin on a larger branch or on the trunk. Never leave a short stub. Re­move all sucker shoots aris­ing from the base of the tree. Never re­move more than a quar­ter to a third of the branches es­pe­cially if you have never pruned the fruit tree be­fore. Depend­ing on the age of your tree I rec­om­mend that you thin out crowded branches es­pe­cially in the in­ner core of the crown. Fruit trees need light to pen­e­trate the crown in or­der to de­velop fruit that will stay on the tree. This also helps pol­li­nat­ing in­sects with the fer­til­iza­tion process. I never rec­om­mend prun­ing a fruit tree that has not been pruned be­fore once spring has ar­rived and the buds are open­ing up. Michael Allen M.Sc.F., RPF (ret.) is a con­sult­ing ur­ban forester, tree di­ag­nos­ti­cian and cer­ti­fied ar­borist. He owns Vibur­num Tree Ex­perts. He can be reached at

204-831-6503 or 204-223-7709

MICHAEL ALLEN / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Early spring is the best time to prune trees and shrubs. Prun­ing of th­ese woody plants can be done while their buds are still dor­mant.

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