Reprinted with permission
By Caleb Torrice
Cornell Cooperative Extension
These are the most common mistakes made while winter pruning in the orchard.
removed, it can increase in diameter and stiffen the branch.
So what is the story on branches growing down? Remember that the tree’s hormones and nutrients are flowing through the tree. These are the factors that determine bud development, vigor and even fruit size. When a branch heads south, these necessary components are naturally not abundant in these areas. That is why droopy branches usually have small fruit and the wood doesn’t show signs of vigor but is mostly spurs. Remove these droopy branches by cutting back to a horizontal branch. This will allow for larger fruit. I know in tip bearing varieties this is an ongoing battle. However, if droopy branches are not removed, over years you can see the decline in productivity, tree health and vigor.
Helpful hint No. 1: Focus on dwarf trees. This is where our bread is buttered in today’s marketplace. Maximizing output per acre. Try to prune every year and at least every other.
Helpful hint No. 2: Don’t go chainsaw crazy every four years. If you go into a block that hasn’t been pruned recently and go hog wild, you will have an explosion of growth. In my opinion, it’s better to cut less more often. Instead of hacking six large branches in one year, take three one year and three in year two. This will help keep your explosive vigor down and allow you to spend half as much time per tree; hopefully, allowing you to move quicker through the block.
One of the rules in life: For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert. This is very true in pruning. The more people in an orchard, the more theories on how to prune. Remember that there is no correct way to prune, but there are wrong ways. Use the principles you know, and use your best judgement in the case at hand.
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