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Growing No Prune/Minimal Pruning Fruit Trees with Natural Plant Nursery

 
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I wanted to create this thread to journal my experiences and observations growing fruit trees without pruning them, possibly with extremely minor pruning, but my goal is to have some completely unpruned fruit trees to see how they turn out. If anyone else has grown unpruned fruit trees or plan to in the future, I'd love to hear about your experiences and see photos or videos of your trees!

I have a few fruit trees that were planted late last Fall that have not been pruned at all besides the pruning the nursery did before sending them. It should be interesting comparing them to my older fruit trees that had been pruned for the previous few years, and they also haven't been pruned recently in the last year.

I plan to let these trees grow completely naturally, forming thick, large canopies reaching close to the ground, if they end up growing that way.

I hope to have lots of fruit close to the ground, that can be easily picked from the ground and a lot that can be picked with pole fruit pickers also, so that ladders won't be needed. Anything above that, I plan to leave for nature, but will gladly make use of the fallen fruit if it is still edible, and I also plan on collecting the seeds from them to hopefully create new good tasting and better adapted fruit trees for my area.

I think there are a lot of benefits from growing unpruned fruit trees, and I'm excited to see how it turns out!
 
Steve Thorn
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This peach tree is in its first growing season and hasn't been pruned besides when the nursery I got it from originally pruned and shipped it.

It has a lot of branches growing out from it, and the growth is full, thick, and very healthy.

I haven't had any disease issues so far associated with the dense canopy. In fact, it has been growing more vigorously and is more healthy than my older peach trees that I had pruned in the past.

I was also excited to find this spider egg sac, which I haven't found in any of my pruned trees. I've noticed spiders and other beneficial bugs hiding in the thicker foliage. It appears that the extra cover helps protect them from predators and also makes it easier for them to catch or ambush prey.
Spider-egg-sac-in-unpruned-peach-tree.jpg
Spider egg sac in unpruned peach tree
Spider egg sac in unpruned peach tree
 
Steve Thorn
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This is a photo from a few weeks ago, of a praying mantis egg case that I found in the same peach tree as above.

It seems like there have been a lot of beneficial insects moving into the unpruned fruit trees!

 
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This is a really interesting idea, Steve.  I would think that the best candidates for this process would be native plants, or plants that love living in your ecosystem.  

Unfortunately for me, I live in an area with very warm, wet springs.  Many trees really hate this.  Growing peaches, nectarines and apricots here in the wet PNW is really tough.  I prune the trees because I need to adapt them so they can be healthy here.  I guess if I lived in the cold, dry mountains of Austria I wouldn't have to worry about wet springs as much.  

I will be interested to see how your experiment turns out.

John S
PDX OR
 
Steve Thorn
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Thanks John!

We get very wet and warm Spring weather here too. I was having a lot of disease issues during that time of the year and had disease issues near the tips of branches that were pruned. The trees would finally start to recover by the end of the growing season and never really thrived, so I decided to try this approach as a result.

I've been really encouraged by the results so far! The unpruned branches have had almost no disease issues, even with the thick canopy. I also tried to create better draining soil around them, which seems to help a lot also. I think that the plants are healthier as a result, and are able to naturally fight off the diseases better.

Hopefully they'll keep growing strong!

 
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