Sepp Holzer says that he never prunes his fruittrees and Jackie French tells the same. Everyone else tells to prune. The trees I planted so far are on dwarf root stocks because we must net against birds (they really don't share with us), there are no fruit tress around here which are not netted. What do you think about not to prune? And he even doesn't fertilize his trees, but maybe the soil there is better. Does no prune trees and dwarf rootstock combine? I really think that pruning is a very complicated business and I never understood this right.
Any tree that was not grown on site from seed has most likely been pruned and is now responding to that event. I prune lightly with the natural form of the tree and my personal interest in mind. Pruning only requires that you understand how plants respond to pruning, how they set fruit, and that you are clear on your goals -- not rocket science, just go slow.
For pruning in general, Cass Turnbull's guide to pruning is the best. Everything she says will seem obvious to you after you've read it, and you will no longer be tortured by self-doubt regarding pruning.
I don't believe she tackles fruit tree pruning in particular, but if you are not interested in the many formal fruit tree pruning systems out there (and I'm not), this book can help you figure out what to do to maximize the natural forms of your trees and shrubs, especially if you have some that have been disfigured by previous efforts.
I don't prune much. When interior citrus branches get really dense and are growing sideways into each other, I sometimes take off some of the side spurs to let more light and air in. Same for young olive trees.
In the One Straw Revolution, Fukokua said that pruning his citrus was the one thing that really needed a human to do, else the grove would become unproductive. I think it is a function of the species, cultivar and location, though. Grapes and blackberries can really benefit from proper pruning.
My only extensive experience with fruit trees is pruning old overgrown apple trees. My young fruit trees are only 3 years old and I'm planning on only pruning dead wood, water sprouts (branches tht grow straight up) or branches that rub up against others. This is pretty much how I go about pruning the old ones...
Somewhere out there in interspace there's a document with diagrams that Fukuoka drew to illustrate and explain what he meant about natural forms and pruning etc. I found it once but am having no luck getting a link to the webpage. Anyone else have the url by chance?
I found the youtube channel of the Dave Wilson Nursery to be most helpful. Their basic idea is to keep trees relatively small and short to facilitate easy harvest and make room for many different varieties in a small plot of land. Of course, this also helps to sell more fruit trees
The 3 fruit trees I planted 3 years ago have remained unpruned for height. The top fruit is for the birds. They don't look the way fruit trees are "supposed" to look but I can't help myself. I want to see what nature has planned. I prune fruit trees for my customers every year and feel confident about it. I understand the principles of apical dominance, branch collar and leaving no stubs. But these are my trees and I can do what I want and so the professional's trees don't get the saw. It will be 20 years before I can really assess this approach. Going to read Holzer now.
Since last year I have left my plum tree unpruned and it grew to three times the size I normally allow. This year I have TRUCKLOADS of plumbs. On a normal year I have enough plums to wish I had a tiny bit more. This year I have wheelbarrow loads going in the compost pile.
It is always good to have more food than you can manage - who can complain about that? However.......
Lots is going to waste. Sharing the harvest hasn't worked out as people want you to hand them a bucket of picked sorted fruit - they don't actually want to do it themselves.
Plums are carpeting my understory veggie beds - the shade is actually helping my bell peppers and carrots but the load of plums is not.
I still work full time so I haven't been able to keep up with cleaning up the fallen fruit and preparing what I have harvested. If I were at home all of the time I would probably leave it unpruned and would have time to take advantage of this great harvest. But from now on - at least til retirement, I will go back to keeping the tree as small as possible and enjoying a smaller yield that I can manage.
Apple trees too: I forgot to mention the apples. I am still learning about apples but this is what happend when I left them unpruned since last year: I have an estimated 5 or 6 times the number of apples on each tree. The are young, 5 year old trees grown from whips. The problem is that the apples are mostly growing on the ends of the long branches so they a difficult to support.
I will prune the apples as well - but not as severely as I prune the plum tree.
I am planning on planting some fruit trees that I don't prune, al la Sepp, but now I have some that I hyper-prune (is that a term). I am now training my new trees to be very short (when I plant them, I lop off anything above knee height. I then create guilds around them. I have a lot of shade on my property, and can't see adding much more. Learned about this from Dave Wilson nursery videos on YouTube.
Let me know how that works out Charles. Id be interested in trying those techniques.
Im like Brenda, unless it damaged or severely overlapping I let it go. I would think that some fruit thinning is more important and here is my logic.
Sepp can get away with it because he has wildlife thinning the fruit as like anything in nature. The wildlife eat the fruit mostly, not taking off whole branches. If we do some fruit thinning, which isnt that hard until you get full sized trees, then there shouldnt be a major problem. That is my thought anyway
This thread is an oldie but a goodie, so hopefully someone will see this. I was just curious if anyone has experimented with pruning methods used in the Permaculture Orchard dvd? I believe he uses hooks to direct fruit tree branches downward to focus the hormones into fruit production rather than branch production. He says this will keep the trees from growing large & they will take up less space & be more manageable. My main question was wondering if this allows enough branch & leaf production to support the amount sunlight energy required to produce the fruit. Does anyone have any thoughts or experience with this? Thank you in advance!
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