Tips for pruning a mature apple tree
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    Tips for pruning a mature apple tree

    We bought a house with 2.5 acres 6 months ago and it has a mature overgrown apple tree that needs a major pruning. We didnt live here long enough to see how the tree blooms in spring but it appears that it don't produce much apples. I watched several videos about pruning them and I'm feeling confident i can at least improve it. It has tons of water sprouts and i know they need to be removed, and i understand what the spurs look like. Can anyone offer any tips on bringing this thing back to its full potential?

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    coaltrain's Avatar
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    Basic rule of thumb I learned from a friend who is an arborist -

    Cut only vertical growth.

    Never cut out more than 1/3 of a trees limbs/mass in one session/season. Always prune when dormant.
    ~Stan~
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    ANYTHING that points straight up, or straight down,,, REMOVE.

    Anything that is growing at a very small angle to the near branch, remove.

    Anything that points towards the center, remove.

    any branch that rubs another branch, remove..

    THERE, THAT ought to keep you busy,,, for a while!!

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    And,, as the old timers told me,, on how to determine when the tree was pruned enough,,,

    Grab a cat by the tail, and sling it through the center of the tree,,

    The cat should fly through without hitting any branches,,,


    I guess these days, you would have to use a stuffed ,, fake cat??

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    Quote Originally Posted by CADplans View Post
    And,, as the old timers told me,, on how to determine when the tree was pruned enough,,,

    Grab a cat by the tail, and sling it through the center of the tree,,

    The cat should fly through without hitting any branches,,,


    I guess these days, you would have to use a stuffed ,, fake cat??

    X2, sayeth this old timer!
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    Quote Originally Posted by CADplans View Post
    ANYTHING that points straight up, or straight down,,, REMOVE.

    Anything that is growing at a very small angle to the near branch, remove.

    Anything that points towards the center, remove.

    any branch that rubs another branch, remove..

    THERE, THAT ought to keep you busy,,, for a while!!

    These are the exact rules of thumb I used to prune my trees for the first time ever three weeks ago. I also had one very overgrown tree that hadn't been pruned in 20+ years. I probably ended up hitting it too hard this year, but it needed it. We will see.

    I was very nervous getting started, I was afraid I would screw up my 10 trees. If you follow these rules, along with the 1/3 rule, you will figure it out as you are doing it. It just kinda clicks once you get started.

    Next step... Dormant oil spray this weekend.
    Last edited by Spartazoo; 02-27-2019 at 03:28 PM.

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    Is it a good idea to heavily prune every winter? I ask because I too have a very overgrown mature apple tree. I heavy prune it using the rules above but stop at 1/3. The summer immediately following, it doesn't bear fruit. The "2nd" summer i get fruit. Then I prune it again the "3rd" winter and the process repeats.

    Any advice?

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDSwan87 View Post
    Is it a good idea to heavily prune every winter? I ask because I too have a very overgrown mature apple tree. I heavy prune it using the rules above but stop at 1/3. The summer immediately following, it doesn't bear fruit. The "2nd" summer i get fruit. Then I prune it again the "3rd" winter and the process repeats.

    Any advice?

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
    This scenario is exactly what I am concerned about and why I was nervous pruning for the first time ever. I think my younger (10ish years old) trees will be fine this year because I didn't prune them much. My over grown tree is another story, I pruned a lot. I won't be surprised if it doesn't bear fruit this year.

    I suspect you took more than 1/3 shocking the tree. I am certainly no expert, that is just a guess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spartazoo View Post
    This scenario is exactly what I am concerned about and why I was nervous pruning for the first time ever. I think my younger (10ish years old) trees will be fine this year because I didn't prune them much. My over grown tree is another story, I pruned a lot. I won't be surprised if it doesn't bear fruit this year.

    I suspect you took more than 1/3 shocking the tree. I am certainly no expert, that is just a guess.
    Actually it was less than 1/3 pruned both times. No fruit each summer after the prune. Mind you, this tree hadn't been pruned in 20 years before I got to it. This summer is the "4th" summer so I expect fruit from it this year if I don't prune it...

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDSwan87 View Post
    Is it a good idea to heavily prune every winter? I ask because I too have a very overgrown mature apple tree. I heavy prune it using the rules above but stop at 1/3. The summer immediately following, it doesn't bear fruit. The "2nd" summer i get fruit. Then I prune it again the "3rd" winter and the process repeats.

    Any advice?
    I disregard the 1/3 rule,,, I prune until I am happy,,, 1/3 surely will grow back in a year,,
    or - in other words,, 1/3 will insure NO progress,,,

    Another thing my sister does,,
    she will run her hand over the branches in the summer,, any new branch buds get knocked off.
    That helps a LOT the next winter prune cycle,,

    Budding is a lot easier than cutting branches and, you can knock off buds all summer,,,

    I do that too,,, when I remember,,
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