Fruit Tree Pruning

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Bill Brandt, Rare Fruit Grower and Past President of Organic Garden Club, says that fruit trees can be pruned in the winter or after the harvest in the summer. Backyard gardeners with organic dwarf fruit trees can prune their trees with guidance and care. Organic dwarf fruit trees are small enough to do well in container and to only require a step ladder to reach the top.  Often these small fruit trees do not need much pruning.  A pole pruner can extend the gardener’s reach up to 12 feet in the air when pruning standard organic fruit trees.  Before pruning, gardeners need to sterilize their pruning shears and saws with boiling water or a solution of 10% chlorine, 90% water.  First prune dead and dying twigs and branches. Next look for damaged and broken branches and remove them. Gardeners must be sure to prune diseased branches or stem tissues infested by insects.  Finally, check for odd branches that cross into the middle of the tree.

Always prune just above a node, the place where a leaf joins a stem and where buds are located, to avoid a stub that can become infected and rot. Gardeners want to prune above outward facing buds, where the new branch will grow in the direction the bud is pointing. New growth will develop away from the center of the tree, leaving the center open to air and light to keep away disease and pests. Gardeners should not prune a branch flush with the trunk, but leave the collar or slightly swollen spot where they meet. This collar can quickly grow over and the seal the wound when the branch is pruned. Because dwarf fruit trees are grafted to a different root stock for propagation, gardeners want to remove shoots growing below the graft union. Organic gardeners can open the center of their fruit tree with responsible pruning to allow better air circulation and healthier fruit.

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