• 70°

Fruit trees must have careful pruning

SALISBURY — Do you have questions on how to prune fruit trees? If so, you are among many who make calls to Cooperative Extension every year asking for help.
In most instances, we ask why people want to prune, but in the case of fruit trees, it is a necessity so the trees can produce optimum fruit and reduce disease problems. For North Carolina, we do our heavy pruning in mid-February.
To get started on pruning, make sure you have the right tools. You need pruning shears, pruning loppers, pruning saw, gloves and some disinfectant (such as a bleach-water solution, or liquid Lysol) to sanitize after pruning. Make sure tools are clean. Using dirty tools can cause the tools to not work properly and cause tearing instead of a clean cut, which can encourage disease or slower healing.
After selecting the proper tools, think about what type of fruit tree you are cutting. For apple, pear, cherry and pecan, you will cut based on the central leader strategy. Central leader means there is one main upright trunk, and then there will be scaffolds or branches that surround the main trunk.
For young trees or whips you will make a cut 30 to 34 inches above the soil after you plant. This will cause branching. You will want to select three to four scaffolds to create each layer or whorl. Make sure your first whorl is at least 24 inches above the soil, and remove any limbs below 24 inches. Then you will allow the center leader to grow. Cut the leader again around 24 to 30 inches to encourage another whorl.
When making the next selection of whorls, make sure that there is 18 to 24 inches between each whorl. The top whorl should be shorter than the bottom whorl to maintain optimum sunlight, so the shape of your tree should look like a Christmas tree.
For peaches and nectarines, you will prune using the open center method. This is different from the center leader, because the main trunk or center leader is removed.
If you receive a young peach or nectarine or whips, you will head/cut the whip 30 to 34 inches above the soil. This will encourage branching, so once that has happened, and during mid-February, select the best three to four scaffolds (branches) that are placed all around the leader. The lowest scaffold should be at least 24 inches above the soil surface; any lower branches need to be removed. Once you have selected your scaffolding branches, remove the leader right above the highest scaffold.
Plums can be pruned in the center leader or open center method. Pears are also highly susceptible to fire blight, which is one reason why we do not have pear orchards. Because of this, sometimes they are pruned to a multi-leader system which is very similar to the central leader, it just has more than one leader.
For fruit trees of all ages, you need to remove water sprouts and suckers. Water sprouts are vigorous upright growth on the scaffolds and suckers are from the rootstock. It is also important to remove branches that are rubbing or scraping against each other. If you need to help reduce height you can prune the branches to an outward facing bud. Do not cut the tips off of every branch. You can lose an entire crop if you do this. As always, one can remove dead, diseased or damaged limbs throughout the year.
All pruning methods help increase light for better fruit production and increase air flow to reduce disease problems.
For more information contact your local Extension Agent Danelle Cutting at 704-216-8970 or visit: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/ag29.html#central
Or watch a video on pruning peaches: http://peaches.ces.ncsu.edu/peaches-movies/

Comments

Comments closed.

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama

Nation/World

Ex-NFL player’s brain to be probed for trauma-related harm after Rock Hill shootings

Education

Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term

Education

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Record night for Pinckney as East cruises; Carson wins thriller in OT

Nation/World

D-Day survivor, WWII torch bearer Ray Lambert dies at 100

Nation/World

Prince Philip was always defined by role as husband of British queen

BREAKING NEWS

One dead, several injured after head-on collision in China Grove

Crime

Man, woman charged for selling drugs to undercover deputies

Crime

Blotter: Rowan County man charged with indecent liberties with children

Local

Spencer town board gets look at Park Plaza progress

Business

‘Applicant market’: Unemployment rate improving as businesses hire more workers

Local

National, local business leaders praise Salisbury’s initiative to support Black-owned operations

Nation/World

Tillis has prostate cancer surgery

Coronavirus

Adverse reactions surface from Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Nation/World

Expert: Lack of oxygen killed George Floyd, not drugs

Local

Quotes of the week

Nation/World

Biden seeks crackdown on homemade firearms

Nation/World

Victim of former NFL player’s rampage wrote of faith, life’s fragility

News

Wrongly imprisoned man gets $750,000

High School

West falls to Statesville, finishes second in NPC

Education

Middle, high school students head back to classes full time