Apple Growing

Reasons For Pruning

With these fundamental principles in mind we may safely outline a method of pruning an apple tree. As the desired end is different so will the method of pruning a young tree differ from that of an old one. There are five important

things for which to prune a young tree, namely: 1. To preserve a proper balance between the top and root at the time of setting out. This usually means cutting off the broken and the very long roots to a reasonable length and cutting back from one-half to two-thirds of the growth of the previous season. 2. To make the top open in order to admit the sunlight freely. In the humid climate of the Northeastern States, it is usually advisable to prune a tree so as to have a rather open top. This is necessary in order properly to color and mature the fruit. 3. To regulate the number of limbs composing the top. Probably three branches well distributed on the trunk would make most nearly the ideal head, but as these cannot always be obtained the best practice is to leave from three to five branches from which to form the top. 4. To fix the branches at the proper height from the ground. This is more or less a matter of opinion, some growers preferring a low and others a high head. The character of the tree growth, the method of culture, and the purpose of the tree whether temporary or permanent greatly influence the height of the head. An upright growing variety should be headed lower than a spreading one. Trees kept in sod or under extensive methods can well be headed lower than those under more intensive culture where it is desirable to carry on cultural operations close around them. Permanent trees should be headed higher than temporary trees. Apple trees should seldom be headed lower than a foot from the ground, nor more than four feet above it. For upright growing varieties intended as permanents, the writer prefers three to three and one-half feet and for more spreading varieties four feet; while for temporary trees eighteen inches should be a good height. 5. To do away with weak crotches and to remove crossing or interfering branches. A crotch formed by two branches of equal size, especially when the split is deep, is a weak crotch and should be avoided. Strong crotches are formed by forcing the development of lateral buds and making almost a right angle branch from the parent one. All branches which rub each other, which tend to occupy the same space with another, or which generally seem out of place, are better removed as soon as any of these tendencies are found to exist.

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