Formative pruning – young trees

It has stopped raining, we have blue skies, frost and sunshine – what a delight. I have emerged from my office and the warmth of the woodburner to start pruning the orchard.

Day 1 I made a good start, pruning 86 trees in four hours.   Starting with the youngest trees (aged 4 & 5 years) I aim to create space around each branch and a gentle taper in the central leader with a good framework of near horizontal branches.

On day 2 I reached some older trees (7 years), tall and dense with a good framework of branches, surprisingly I did very little to these, cutting out one or two whole branches near the main stem to encourage a more uniform taper.

Most of the trees in the orchard are too tall for me to reach the very top where some of the leaders need ‘clearing’ of side shoots (removal of competition and thereby increasing the auxins at the main growing tip of the tree), I will have to come back with a telescopic pruner.

I enjoy formative pruning, it is a bit like puppy training – establish the rules early then reap the rewards thereafter. It is a very rewarding job, unlike fruit thinning which went on for weeks and weeks last June.

In summary our young orchard of 450 trees produced 4560kg of fruit in the autumn, all of which was made into cider.

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