|Art by Olbinski|
Each year you should do the following:
- Remove Dead / Diseased / Damaged branches
- Remove Crossing branches and Weak stems
- Remove any branches growing towards the centre of tree
- Remove any growing vertically or straight down
- Thin new growth to allow light to filter into the canopy
- Shorten any branches that are too long to avoid leggy growth
- Shape tree evenly and remember apples flower and fruit on old wood, so head back new growth to direct energy back into the flowers and fruit
- If in the last year too many apples have formed and crowded each other out, thin the spurs to only a few per branch. This will allow enough light and air to circulate around which will avoid disease and small fruit.
If you've purchased a house where an apple tree was planted on the property several years before hand chances are the previous owners did not take the time to properly prune the tree. The tree may have become bushy and weak and may not be producing top quality apples. Such a tree requires extensive corrective pruning.
The main objective in pruning such a tree is to open up the canopy and allow light and air to circulate throughout the tree.
The first step is to remove all the upright, vigorous growing shoots at their base that are shading the interior. As with the young apple trees, it is necessary to select 3 to 5 lower branches spaced around the tree.
In most cases it is advisable to spread the corrective pruning over two to three seasons. Where severe pruning is done in the winter, the tree should not be fertilised that spring.
Pruning: How To Prune Apple Trees Between Autumn And Spring