To get a good harvest of fragrant and beautiful fruits, the apple tree must be pruned annually. It is generally believed that in cold climates, tree pruning should only be done in the spring, but this is not true. Even in Siberia, you can successfully prune an apple tree in the fall. In this section, we will discuss all the nuances and rules of autumn pruning of apple trees in a harsh climate. Our recommendations and advice will be useful not only for beginners, but also for experienced gardeners.
Why cut an apple tree
To get a good harvest of fruits, it is not enough just to plant a young seedling and wait for the result. It is important to engage in plant formation from the very beginning of its cultivation. This will allow you to form a beautiful crown of the fruit tree, making it a decorative element of your garden. In addition to external changes, cropping will allow:
- Heal the plant, prevent the development of diseases and insect parasitism.
- Properly distribute the flow of nutrients in the body of the fruit tree.
- Increase the quantity and quality of fruits.
- Provide access to sunlight to each branch of the tree, which will contribute to uniform ripening of apples.
- Improve air circulation in the inner crown of the crown and prevent the development of rot.
- Make fruit branches strong and reliable.
If you do not control the growth of the apple tree, then soon the spreading plant will reduce the volume of fruiting or stop blooming altogether. Also, the result of the formation of excess greenery can be a break in the branches and the death of a fruit tree.
Apple pruning is carried out depending on the age and condition of the fruit tree. The following types of trimming will be highlighted:
All three types of pruning can be done in the fall. At the same time, it is very important to choose the best time period correctly and follow the basic principles of work. We will try to highlight all the nuances of pruning apple trees in autumn in Siberia for beginners and experienced gardeners later in the article.
Best time to trim
You need to prune fruit trees at a time when they are dormant: in late autumn or early spring. Autumn pruning is considered to be more gentle, because before the onset of spring all the wounds on the wood will heal and the plant will grow without delay and stress. Under the condition of low winter temperatures, rot, diseases do not develop on the cut, and pests do not parasitize. Thus, the question of whether it is possible to prune apple trees in the fall has an unambiguous answer: it is possible and necessary!
Given the length of the fall period, it is important to determine the exact timing of when to prune trees. The time must be chosen so that there are no leaves on the apple tree, and 3-4 weeks remain before frost. Under such conditions, the movement of sap in the body of the plant has already been stopped, and there is no threat of freezing.
It is worth noting that some gardeners are also engaged in pruning fruit trees in winter, but this is fraught with damage to the skin, breaking of fragile branches, and partial freezing of the crown of the plant.
Pruning apple trees depending on the age of the plant
A young apple tree is considered to be up to 4 years old. At this time, you need to regularly, every autumn, prune the tree so as to correctly form its crown. An apple tree is called old, the age of which has reached 20 years. Such fruit trees reduce yields and produce poor quality fruit. To restore vitality to the apple tree, it must be rejuvenated by deep pruning. In the period from 4 to 20 years old, the fruit tree requires molding and sanitary pruning. How to properly prune a tree at a certain age can be found in the sections below.
Pruning young trees
To make it easier for beginners to understand the principle of pruning young apple trees, we will give a picture that clearly demonstrates the sections of the crown to be removed.
Depending on age, the following sections of the crown are removed on the apple tree:
- A one-year-old seedling often does not have side branches, so it is recommended to cut its top so that several buds remain below, which will eventually become skeletal branches.
- In the second year, you need to form the skeleton of the apple tree by removing excess branches. You only need to leave 2-3 side branches. It is recommended to cut them by about 1/3 of the length. This will allow them to grow faster.
- In the third year, you need to thin out the crown, leaving last year's branches and cutting new shoots by a third. Branches growing downward or at a very sharp angle to the surface of the trunk should be removed.
- In the fourth year, you need to duplicate all the operations that were performed in the third year of growing the seedling. Branches that excessively thicken the crown of the tree are also subject to removal.
Important! When removing a third of the branch, you need to make sure that there are growth buds on the left shoot.
Depending on the variety, the apple tree can form branches in moderate to large numbers. Some hybrids are characterized by self-regulation of green mass growth. For varieties with a lush crown, it is very important to correctly form the crown of the apple tree in the first 4 years. In this case, further pruning of the tree will not be difficult.
Pruning adult apple trees
Adult apple trees need to be pruned annually, removing broken, dry and diseased branches, excess crown. When carrying out the operation, it is important to follow the principles and rules of pruning. For beginners in gardening, it is very convenient to use ready-made schemes for the formation of adult apple trees.
We will try to consider the main ones in more detail:
At the time of planting an apple tree, you already need to think about which formation scheme will be convenient to use in the future. The decorative qualities of the plant, its fertility and vitality depend on the scheme. Having chosen the formation scheme, it is enough to remove the corresponding branches from year to year in order to get a beautiful, healthy tree with abundant fruiting.
Rejuvenation of old trees
Healthy apple trees that have reached the age of 20 can be rejuvenated by removing most of the crown. If the tree is sick, then such a procedure is likely to be pointless.
You need to rejuvenate old apple trees for several years. Global removal or over-pruning of branches can lead to the death of the fruit tree. So, there are two rejuvenation schemes:
- The traditional scheme recommends cutting the skeletal branches in half on the old tree over the course of several years. In general, the shape of the crown should resemble a triangle, as shown in the picture below. Pruning of branches should be carried out in stages over 3-4 years. You can cut off no more than 2 meters from a branch at a time.
- The modern way to rejuvenate old apple trees will also take 3-5 years. The first stage of the work is to remove the crown from the south side of the tree. You need to leave a "hat" 2 m wide and 3 m high. After the branches on the south side of the apple tree grow and bear the first fruits, you need to carry out such pruning on the north side.
Rejuvenating apple trees is an excellent alternative to planting young seedlings. After deep pruning, the tree with renewed vigor builds up a lush green crown, begins to actively bear fruit. At the same time, the yield and quality of the fruits of the crop will noticeably improve.
The formation of trees depends largely not only on the preferences of the gardener and the tendency of the variety to form branches, but also on the tallness of the fruit trees. Some apple trees, in the absence of formation, can grow up to 12 m tall. To determine the required cutting height, refer to the following table.
Thus, we tried to give graphic and textual, detailed information that will allow a novice gardener to understand the principle of pruning and choose the best crown formation scheme depending on the age of the apple tree.
Basic rules for pruning trees
There are some important rules to follow in order to properly prune your tree and cause minimal damage to the plant. They are suitable for both autumn and spring pruning:
- More than three large branches cannot be cut in one season. That is why it is recommended to form fruit trees from the first years of planting so that you do not have to "clean" the crown of neglected plants.
- It is better to pinch a branch at an early stage of development than to cut it off later.
- Dry, broken and diseased branches must be cut back to healthy, fresh wood.
- Do not leave hemp on the tree. The branches must be cut as carefully as possible so as not to damage the skin on the trunk or a healthy branch left.
- The branch should be cut at an angle towards the bud (picture below).
- When shaping the crown, only a sharp and clean instrument should be used.
- All cuts should be protected with garden varnish.
- Weak branches need to be cut deeply so that they grow stronger. Vigorous branches need light pruning.
- During the pruning of branches, you cannot climb a tree, since you can harm yourself and the plant in this way. Use a ladder to reach the very top of the plant.
- Use a pruner to remove small branches.
- You need to start pruning a branch from the bottom. After a shallow cut is made, you can finish off the wood from above. In this case, the branch will not damage the wood on the mother trunk if it breaks.
The correct and incorrect ways of pruning shoots above the bud, as well as the consequences of an erroneous operation, are shown in the picture:
In addition to the information provided above, beginners can be advised to watch the video:
The video clearly shows the whole process of pruning apple trees in the fall. Having compared all the important points, having studied the rules of pruning and choosing the best time for the event, you need to sharpen the tool and get down to business. We wish every gardener good luck and a good harvest.