lkjts
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Help pruning this young apricot tree [pics inside]

Hello my dear fellow gardeners!

Last year I bought an estate with quite an amount of unattended fruit trees. RIght after that, I packed tonnes of literature to learn fruit gardening. Pruning was my most feared topic :lol: This month i started pruning my trees, and although I am new at this, I managed to prune some older apple trees very well i think.

However, I am having problems deciding how to prune this particular apricot tree. Last spring it was quite small, and it seem it grew significantly since, almost double in height. Take a look at the pic:

Image

To me, branches look overgrown in height. Also, their angle is too steep. As you see, it almost started to bloom and now is probably the last opportunity to prune it. My problem is, I am not sure how to do it, because of all this straight growth. I cannot just cut those tall branches in half, can I? Also, it seems to me this could be the first year for this tree to bear fruit! I really don't want to mess it up! :oops:

It would be great if someone could advise me here, or even better draw a few lines on my pic, and thus guide me where to make the cuts!

Thanks folks!

JONA
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Re: Help pruning this young apricot tree [pics inside]

Hi Ikjts
No...don't cut anything!
There is nothing wrong with your tree except it needs telling were you want it to grow.
There is one upright that looks more dominant than the rest. Choose this one as the leader of your tree and work on the other branches around it.
Tie the branches around it down carefully with string and weighted bags to as low an angle as you can ....50-60 degrees would be perfect...without causing the branches to crack or break. You'll be surprised how supple they are.
This will help those branches to develope as the main cropping branches as well as giving you control over the trees growth.
The weighted branches will set in their positions quite quickly and by early summer you may find you can remove the weights. Trial and error will show you how long.
The ideal is to use bags rather than stakes for tying down as they can be moved easily if you need to mow etc.
Last edited by JONA on Sun Feb 28, 2016 12:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
John

lkjts
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Re: Help pruning this young apricot tree [pics inside]

Hey Jona, thanks for the detailed answer.
So tying down branches is all I have to do? No pruning at all?

Oh, and what about the suckers, that large one, and a few small ones? Surely i must cut those?

JONA
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Re: Help pruning this young apricot tree [pics inside]

Yes ...cut those suckers off.
Be careful as you pull the branches down....if you feel them starting to crack..stop.
Put the string towards the ends of the branches so they form an arc as they bend. The nearer the branch is to the trunk the more reluctant it will be to bend and the more liable to crack instead. Remember to tie using a loop so that string does not cut into the wood.
You will find that this summer the branches may well put out shoots along their length as buds along their length respond to the better light.
These can be shortened back at the end of summer to produce Spurs for more fruit cropping.
John

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Gary350
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Re: Help pruning this young apricot tree [pics inside]

I worked in an orchard many years ago they always pruned the trees in FALL soon as the leaves fell off and it was freezing cold weather. Do not prune small trees wait until they are about 5 old and have a good root system. Rule of thumb is, the roots in the ground are the about the same size as the plant you see. When the plant gets to the correct size cut it back so the plant is 1/2 the size of the roots. Never prune a tree too late in spring it will kill it. If you prune very much from the tree it will not make fruit the following summer but it will next summer after that. Best thing you can do is cut about 1/2 the limbs off. Cut off all the vertical limbs, leave only the horizontal limbs. Cut the horizontal limbs short too much heavy fruit on a long limb will break it off. Fertilize once a week with a high nitrogen fertilizer 20-10-10 about 1 cup in a 10 foot radius around the tree then plenty of water until 80 degree weather. No more fertilizer in hot weather. Fruit trees need full sun all day it you want ripe fruit.

JONA
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Location: Sussex. England

Re: Help pruning this young apricot tree [pics inside]

Hi Gary......you will not kill a tree by pruning later in the spring.
We often fail to complete our pruning before full bloom because of the number of trees.
It has no effect on the trees ..other than the damage that can be done by knocking fruiting buds off as you prune! Don't forget that espaliers, cordons and fans are all pruned in the summer months.
The other thing I would not do is apply heavy nitrogen just before full bloom or at June drop. The trees natural response would be to grow strongly and could cause poor fruit retention.
John

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