View Full Version : How to Prune These Apple Trees? (pics)

07-25-2007, 11:23 AM
I think I'm quickly gaining the necessary knowledge on how to prune about 80% of the apple trees that I planted this year. There are a few "problem child" trees, though. I'd like to get input on how to prune these particular trees.

The first picture seen below is a bare-root semi-dwarf GoldRush variety tree. The problem with it is that one of the side branches is trying to be the central leader and has all kinds of vigorous growth at it's top. This pic was taken about 10 days ago and the "real" central leader shoot has grown a little in that time, but it's not keeping up with the side branch growth. I know I need to spread those side limbs anyway. Will doing that (and consequently making that side branch lower than the central leader) solve my problem, or do I need to do some "summer pruning/trimming" on that side branch in addition to spreading it for a better crotch angle and making it lower?


The next 3 pics are of potted trees that I bought at a local nursery and planted them in December. I got them for a good deal and said "what the heck". They are all "table" varieties but I did plant them for widlife: Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Granny Smith. I hadn't started doing my crash course on pruning yet when I planted them this spring, so the only pruning I did at that time was on limbs that the deer saw fit to nip the ends off of during the winter before I got cages up around the trees.

These are several year old trees, and their main limb "structures" are already well established. The problem with many of them is that they have multiple "leaders", I'm guessing because they weren't pruned properly before they got to the nursery. What should be my plan on these trees? Should I wait until they are dormant and then simply prune off all other leaders except one? Should I then head back the main leader to stimulate some new scaffold branch growth? They haven't put on much new growth this year because it has been so dry. Only when I started getting them some serious water about a month ago did they start putting on some new shoots/growth.

Any suggestions?




07-25-2007, 11:49 AM
I feel your pain there qdm....I'll be watching this thread to see what they say. Im sure Maya will have some input. I bought some "people apple" trees from a local nursery for a great deal and one of them is like you have pictured here. "THEY" are the "granola" type and believe in minimal pruning, all natural for their trees but I want this thing to grow properly too.


07-25-2007, 11:54 AM
The first tree needs the limbs weighted down to 90%. It my or my not be to late in the year for it to stay where you want it. If you weigh or tie them at 90% until they go dormant this fall they should come back to about 60% next spring, witch is where you want them to be.

The second tree, that bottom right branch is perfect, thats the branch angel you want. I would leave the limb with tag as the central leader and weigh or tie the others down.

The 3rd tree I would prune the two inside branch's to keep them from crossing and just shape prune it next late winter early spring.

The last one WOW. It too needs the limbs tied down. I wouldn't prune any thing till late winter early spring, just weight and tie to 90% until they go dormant then take the weights/strings off and see what you have. Next spring I would go easy on the heading cuts and prune back to an existing branch.

07-25-2007, 01:37 PM
Should I wait until they are dormant and then simply prune off all other leaders except one? Yes, this winter.
Should I then head back the main leader to stimulate some new scaffold branch growth? Trimming off the other leaders should be enough to simulate alot of new growth.
Any suggestions? keep watering and study prunning diagrams.

07-25-2007, 04:30 PM
I don't have a lot of time to post QDMO, but real quickly you need to start over this spring on those bad ones. The first you can get some limb spreaders on those branches now and head back the branch on right.

IMO it's much easier to start over than try and weight or spread all those messed up branches. You always want tho cut back and train properly when they are young like that. You got the idea I think, one central leader. Get some spreaders and get spreadin!!!!!!

DT let's get together some weekend and look at your trees. I'll bring some spreaders and show you. How far are you from the Waterbury flee market? I can drop her(the little lady) off there so she can get in trouble and we'll play in the woods!!!

Here's a pretty good shaped tree this spring. Three years old now I think. You can see the red spreaders in it. I do haye some spreaders on the lower branches now.

07-25-2007, 04:55 PM
Thanks for the input everyone. Maya, where should I head it back to? About the same height as the branch on the left?

07-25-2007, 05:17 PM
By the way, here are some of the trees I'm real pleased with as far as correct limb progress. These were planted bareroot this year, and they all had at least a few lateral limbs already established when I planted them. I've trimmed off some new shoots that were in the wrong location, but other than that, I've just watered the heck out of them and they're really doing well. In order of the pics below, they are: 1) Liberty; 2) Enterprise; 3) William's Pride




07-25-2007, 05:52 PM
The first tree the Liberty is the best pruned tree I have seen perfectly lateral limbs! If only mine looked like that... :rolleyes:

07-25-2007, 10:42 PM
Those tree's look sweet!:)

Sent you a PM

07-26-2007, 05:52 AM
Thanks for the input everyone. Maya, where should I head it back to? About the same height as the branch on the left?

Yes, just beyond a bud that is going in the direction that you want the branch to grow. Those others look great! Liberties IMO are the best for habitat managers due to there naturaly good crotch angles and that they are pretty disease resistant. Easy to care for!

Your lucky the deer arent hammering them! Where do you live over there? I hunted all around the Wayne last year.

07-26-2007, 07:03 AM
I'm not far from the Wayne N.F. headquarters, about 20 miles west. Great country. You do any good while you were out here? See any nice bucks?

Those particular trees are by my house in our "personal" orchard, and the deer don't come through that part of the yard too much. However, I've got duplicates of all those trees (plus about 6 more disease-resistant species) at my "wildlife orchard" not too far away where I hunt. At the wildlife orchard, I've got a T-post "fence" with 4 strands of wire, plus I've got mesh bags of Irish Spring soap hanging on each tree, and lastly I spray the trees about once every 10 days with a mixture made from a highly concentrated garlic-based product called "Garlic Barrier". Between the fence, soap and garlic spray, it seems to be keeping the deer from nibbling. I have watched them walk right by the fences and seem to completely ignore that they are there. Before the onset of winter, I will probably put another strand or two of wire on them, or some sort of netting.

Regarding Liberty apple trees, I don't know if the ones I got are like that from every nursery or not, but of the 7 different varieties of disease-resistant trees I got, the Liberty trees were the biggest caliper and had the longest limbs already in place. Not sure what the root stock is, except that they're semi-dwarf. I bought them from Jung Seed in Wisconsin, along with several other species. I was very happy with all of them. I was also extremely pleased with the stock I purchased from Adams County Nursery in PA. I'll probably plant another 6-10 trees next spring, consisting of Liberty, Goldrush and maybe one other. I like Goldrush because of their late drop, during the rut!

07-26-2007, 08:23 AM
qdmohio, sounds like you may live closer to where we stayed when we were out there (I was with Maya last season). We stayed at Hocking Hills.

Maya, I only have one "bad tree" that needs to be trained/trimmed. Maybe it might be better to get you up more in the springtime and do some looking around and work. Im about 30 miles from the Waterbury Flea Market. The trees I got from Rob are looking pretty good. I think they were trained well to start with. My main thing with these trees are the deer/moose protection which Im working on now. How did the netting you tried from HD work out? I also saw on another post/picture on here someone used plain chicken wire which would be cheaper for my woods trees????


07-26-2007, 03:27 PM
See The Comments in Photos.

Put cages around them!

The last one will take a couple years to get straight.

08-02-2007, 06:42 PM
Thanks very much for the helpful comments. I feel like I have a lot more to go on now.