One thing I really remember from arboriculture training, is when you're done pruning a tree it should look like you didn't prune anything. Which means shaping a tree to take on its natural form without taking out too much.
Speaking of unpruned trees, out in the SoCal desert there's a small tree farm that mostly has fruit trees.... including, of all things, cherries. The parent tree is in their yard -- it's about 60 feet tall and is a gorgeous tree. Pretty obviously never pruned. Also not terribly convenient if the object is to pick cherries.
I use Felco pruners, they are not stainless steel.
Once I am through using them for the day I strip them down, clean them, sharpen them and reassemble, then they are oiled.
It is fine to use alcohol exclusively, if you make sure it stays on for at least 30 seconds.
I built a bottle holder for my belt for the bleach water, it has a rubber cover with a slit so it doesn't spill and is still easy to plunge the pruners into it. The rubber acts like a squeegee as they are pulled out.
I've used the same pruners since 1973, they are still going strong.
I am pruning primarily to keep the trees small, as I will not always be able to climb for the fruit. I want to keep everything under 8 feet, which won't be possible with the already established trees but I'm working a little at a time to bring them down to a level where I can reach the fruit easily. Work in progress. All my young trees are seed-grown and I'll be able to train them from the beginning. The almond was pruned every year until life interfered and I had to let it go--now it's much taller than I'm comfortable climbing. Same with the old plum, and for the same reason. I've seen no difference in quantity or quality of fruit on either the almond or the plum since I was unable to prune, and if I wasn't thinking about 20 or 40 years from now when I CAN'T climb, I'd probably just let them go. We took a major limb off the plum tree last year, another this spring, and probably a third next spring. That should bring the majority of the tree into bounds where I can at least reach it to pick.
Zone 5b/6a, alkaline soil, 12 inches of water per year. For now the goal is a water independent urban homestead with edible landscaping and food forest.
Bryant RedHawk wrote:I have only created pollard apple trees for one client but now that I am putting in my own orchard and will have a variety of apple trees growing, I may give one of them the pollard treatment, especially if I find a variety I want that isn't available as a dwarf.
Just obey common sense. In the winter, prune crossing branches and prune suckers from the roots. You want to open the base of the tree to the sun. You want maximum sun for your fruiting branches. Simple, simple.
"Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice." -- Mohandas Gandhi