Taiji
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How to Prune this new apple tree?

I bought a couple of apple trees at the local big box store. Good price but of course people who work there don't know anything about root stock, etc. I'm guessing they are semi dwart; the tag does say finished height is 10 to 15 ft. This variety is Cortland. How should I prune this?

My thought is to leave a good branch at the bottom, then work my way around about 90 degees and up maybe about 8 inches, then save that branch and so on until running out of branches. In other words, ending up with about 3 or 4 branches spaced 8 to 10 inches apart vertically, and at right angles to each other.

Then, at the top where there is a cluster of 4 or 5 branches coming out of the same spot, choose one good one to leave as a central leader? Is this a good idea? Thx.
apple tree.JPG

JONA
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Re: How to Pune this new apple tree?

Hi Taiji,
I would not make any suggestion on your tree until all the leaves are off and you can take a picture of the naked tree.
At the moment the top of the tree is not very clear because of all the leaf. It does appear to be top heavy with shoots and they do look stronger growing at the top than the lower ones are. This has to be corrected in the winter prune.
Sorry I can’t answer straight away. But if you could wait it will be clearer as to what’s needed.
John

Taiji
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Re: How to Pune this new apple tree?

Thank you. I will be back in AZ in about 5 wks. Maybe the leaves will have gone by then.

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Gary350
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Re: How to Pune this new apple tree?

When I worked in the apple orchard they would never prune a new tree until it was 5 years old and about 12 ft tall. Give it lots of fertilizer once a week with lots of water.

Never prune a tree until all leaves have fallen off in FALL.

JONA
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Re: How to Pune this new apple tree?

Except for wanting a tree that will grow very large so that you can sit under it in a few years, I would not recommend leaving it unpruned for that long I’m afraid Gary.
Most modern trees are grown as centre leader trees and on some form of dwarfing rootstock.
As such it’s vital...unless you want a very tall tree...to keep the top of the tree weaker than the lower part. Maintaining a roughly Christmas tree shape.
This cannot be done unless you start pruning from year two and if necessary helping the shape by some tying down of misshaped branches.
This way you can keep your tree down to a level where you can pick all the fruit from ground level. No ladder work needed!
Most growers now expect their trees to be in full crop by year seven.

If you want a large open centre tree like growers used to grow . Then it’s usual to have to cut the maiden tree down to around knee height at planting to get the start of the bowl shape that you want a few years down the line.
Then it would indeed be a case of wait and see as the tree grows to the required height .
But you would also want to be on a rootstock for that strength of growth needed.
A MM106 stock at the very least.
John

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Gary350
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Re: How to Prune this new apple tree?

I learned about 2 weeks ago new preferred way to prune apple trees is funnel shape so apples get lots of full sun other wise they don't get ripe. I'm not sure how a person gets a tree shaped like this. I am not a very good artist I hope you get the idea from this drawing. When I worked in an apple orchard 50 years ago they let trees grow many years before they pruned it.
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HoneyBerry
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Re: How to Pune this new apple tree?

My trusty old gardening book says that a young apple tree can be pruned to increase branch length and to remove competing or potentially weak branches. It says that a mature apple tree can be pruned to maintain size by removing last season's growth.
I don't have an apple tree, but if I did, I would like to have a dwarf or semi-dwarf tree and espalier it. My neighbor has a nice espaliered dwarf tree. There are specialized pruning techniques for espaliering. Something to consider.
ISFP "The Artist"

JONA
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Re: How to Pune this new apple tree?

Image

Modern intensive orchard.
These are gala.

Image

Old espalier trained apple tree....just ready for its winter tidy up.

Image

Ideal garden sized tree. Rootstock 9. Thirty years old.
John

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Re: How to Prune this new apple tree?

Nice drawing Gary350.
The espalier idea is also about helping the sunlight reach the branches.
There are some old heirloom apple trees at the organic farm not too far from my place. They are not being pruned at all and they are producing a nice crop regardless.
ISFP "The Artist"

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