This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Larry A. Sagers Regional Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved
Home Fruit Production with Larry Sagers Thinking of growing fruit trees, have question as to which varieties are best for Utah or have fruit trees that are not producing the way you would like? Come learn how to succeed with your backyard orchard. Topics include soil, fertilizing, variety selection, pollination, planting and pest control.(4 week class meeting 2 hours each week) Fee: $40.00
If you sign up for all three classes in this series Fruit Production-February, Vegetable Production-March and Preserving and Storage-April the cost is $90. Call 768-7443 for the discount
The following tips are for our listeners as they prepare to prune fruit trees in their backyard orchards.
Don't climb in the trees,
Don't get on ladders that are too tall and be very careful when using chain saws or other power equipment.
Keep your equipment in top form, clean and sharpen your pruners and saws. If you have poor quality equipment replace it with quality tools and then take care of them.
Carpenter saws, axes or hatchets, machetes and dull pruners are never acceptable pruning tools.
Before going into the orchard, plan a little strategy. This is not you against the trees. Pruning is to help the trees stay healthy and to produce good fruit.
Pruning is an art based on scientific principles. It is impossible to prune correctly without knowing how your plants are going to respond. Experts who expound pruning rules such as "Cut everything back by one third simply do not understand plant growth and development."
Before attacking the plants in your garden, realize plants have different growth habits and responses. Fruit trees require much different training than landscape trees. Don't train all your trees the same because they have very different purposes in your garden.
Fruit trees are pruned to fit a certain size and shape and to increase production. The height to prune is best determined by the height of your picking ladder. It makes little sense to grow fruit trees that are so large the fruit cannot be harvested. Prune the trees to allow easy picking, spraying and other fruit growing operations.
Prune your fruit trees the day you put them in the ground and at least once a year thereafter. The main branches of all fruit trees should start 18 to 30 inches above the ground. The branches should come out at an angle of 60 90 degrees.
Start the trees right so they will produce good crops for many years. Poorly trained trees are good only for firewood. The first three years of training are most important in developing a strong, productive tree. If the branches on the tree are not coming out in the right places, prune the tree back to stimulate new growth.
Prune new trees to force the growth in the right places. In some cases, most of the wood is pruned off to start the tree on the right training program. Use limb spreaders to establish a strong framework of scaffolds and encourage earlier production.