I've been trying to figure out what to do with some fruittrees that are young (4 -8 years) but have been growing in a very shady location and have never been pruned. They've tried to make a run for the sunlight, so are quite tall for their relative age. I've opened up the area a bit so they get a lot more sun, but now how to prune? I cannot really imagine cutting the central leader at this point. It's 2 - 3 inches diameter at eye level on these trees and they are 10 - 15 feet tall. Already no chance at reaching most of the fruit. Thank you!
It's time to get out the pruning saw, swallow hard and take the deep breaths. You might want a bottle of Elmer's White glue to seal the fresh cut wood with.
Decide how tall you want the tree to be allowed to grow, then find those main branches below that height and prune them back first, this will let you get your ladder closer for pruning that central leader to around 3 feet below your preferred height for the tree.
The other option is to trace back on the central leader and when you find the upper most branch you want to keep, cut the central leader off there.
I would leave branches about 3 feet long and probably I would do the same for the central leader.