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8 forms of capital agroforestry apples beans bees beneficial berries biodigester blackberries blackthorn book review brain budget build building campesino capital Celtic festivals change changes chemical-free chickens circular clay pot climate change climate solutions climbing cob comfrey community compost compost teas connection consciousness conservation cooking coppice coppicing cordial cosmology crafts crisis cultural emergence culture cycles design diary diversity DIY do it yourself earth care Earth's energy economics ecopoetry ecosystem edges education efficiency elements energy ethics fair shares Fairtrade farming feedback feminine ferns figs firewood flowers food food forest forage foraging forest garden forest gardening fruit fruit trees future future care gardening garlic gift economy gin global poverty grapes greenhouse grow grow your own growing guilds habitat harvest harvests hazel hazelnut health healthy soil hedging herbs holistic planned grazing home homestead Hugelkultur humanure IBC tanks Indigenous inexpensive influence jam land landscape life livelihood livestock logs low cost market garden market gardening marmalade mass heater medicinal microbes mimic mindset mitigation money moringa Mother Earth multifunctional mushrooms native plants natural natural building natural fertiliser natural skincare natural swimming pool nature nitrogen no dig no-dig nutrition nuts observe off-grid orchard orchards organic outdoor shower oven oyster pallets pasture-fed patterns people people care perennials permaculture permaculture design permaculture magazine award permaculutre pests pips pizza oven plant profile plants pollinators polyculture polycultures preserving principles propagating pruning psycho-spiritual awareness psychospiritual transformation rainwater raspberries recipe recipes reduce reed beds regenerative agriculture relative location relative matter renewable renewable energy resources reuse revolution rootstock rootstocks roundhouse roundwood runner beans Scotland seasons Sepp Holzer september septic tanks sewage treatment shrubs skincare sloes slugs small solutions small-scale smallholding social justice soil health solar solutions spiritual spring stacking functions straw straw bale sustainable systems temperate terraces thistles timber timber framing toolkit tools trees upcycle urban vegan vermicomposting walnuts waste watering weeds wellbeing wetland wild food wildlife wings winter salads wood stove woodburner woodland woodland management woodlands worms year-round food yield zoning

Topics

8 forms of capital agroforestry apples beans bees beneficial berries biodigester blackberries blackthorn book review brain budget build building campesino capital Celtic festivals change changes chemical-free chickens circular clay pot climate change climate solutions climbing cob comfrey community compost compost teas connection consciousness conservation cooking coppice coppicing cordial cosmology crafts crisis cultural emergence culture cycles design diary diversity DIY do it yourself earth care Earth's energy economics ecopoetry ecosystem edges education efficiency elements energy ethics fair shares Fairtrade farming feedback feminine ferns figs firewood flowers food food forest forage foraging forest garden forest gardening fruit fruit trees future future care gardening garlic gift economy gin global poverty grapes greenhouse grow grow your own growing guilds habitat harvest harvests hazel hazelnut health healthy soil hedging herbs holistic planned grazing home homestead Hugelkultur humanure IBC tanks Indigenous inexpensive influence jam land landscape life livelihood livestock logs low cost market garden market gardening marmalade mass heater medicinal microbes mimic mindset mitigation money moringa Mother Earth multifunctional mushrooms native plants natural natural building natural fertiliser natural skincare natural swimming pool nature nitrogen no dig no-dig nutrition nuts observe off-grid orchard orchards organic outdoor shower oven oyster pallets pasture-fed patterns people people care perennials permaculture permaculture design permaculture magazine award permaculutre pests pips pizza oven plant profile plants pollinators polyculture polycultures preserving principles propagating pruning psycho-spiritual awareness psychospiritual transformation rainwater raspberries recipe recipes reduce reed beds regenerative agriculture relative location relative matter renewable renewable energy resources reuse revolution rootstock rootstocks roundhouse roundwood runner beans Scotland seasons Sepp Holzer september septic tanks sewage treatment shrubs skincare sloes slugs small solutions small-scale smallholding social justice soil health solar solutions spiritual spring stacking functions straw straw bale sustainable systems temperate terraces thistles timber timber framing toolkit tools trees upcycle urban vegan vermicomposting walnuts waste watering weeds wellbeing wetland wild food wildlife wings winter salads wood stove woodburner woodland woodland management woodlands worms year-round food yield zoning

How and Why You Need to Prune Fruit Trees

Wade Muggleton, apple expert, offers his tips for fruit tree pruning, and why it's necessary.

Why do we prune fruit trees? (Bearing in mind we don’t prune an oak tree growing in a hedgerow.)

There are four main reason that we prune fruit trees:

To get better quality fruit: it is better to get 100 fully ripe, full sized apples, than 200 apples the size of a golf ball that never fully ripen. So it’s about quality, not necessarily quantity.

To let light and air into the tree: a good fruit tree has a light open airy structure that allows sunshine to all parts of the tree, and allows the breeze to easily blow and flow through the tree, flushing away any spores or stagnant air that may harbour disease.

To keep the tree of a certain size or shape: we may prune a fruit tree to physically reduce its size, or to stop it impinging on another space i.e. in a garden to keep it away from the washing line, shed, greenhouse etc.

To cut out disease, damage and deadwood: pruning to remove these three Ds is considered a way to promote a healthy, productive tree.

A well-made cut to just above the collar should in time heal over completely
Always prune to just above a bud, preferably and outward facing bud

Summary – the pruning mantra

Favour the horizontal over the vertical.

Take out branches that cross and or rub on each other.

Look to create light, space and air in the tree.

Aim for an open centre with a wine glass / goblet shape.

Favour outward facing growth and cut out inward facing growth.

Before and after the vertical growth has been removed to favour the fruiting horizontal branches
A young tree pruned in a good open centred goblet shape that allows light and air to all parts of the tree

Lead image: Here a vertical branch is growing up through the tree and rubbing on the horizontal branch. The vertical branch should be removed.

Further Resources

Watch

How to Plan and Plant your own Orchard

How to Grow Fruit Trees in Small Spaces

Books

The Orchard Book
by Wade Muggleton

Articles

Planting Fruit Trees – Part 1 – Which Fruit?

Beginner's Guide to Propagating Fruit

About the Author

Wade is an apple tree expert, with over 130 fruit trees in his field orchard, and plenty more as small trees in his backyard permaculture plot, Station Road Permaculture.