Friday, 17 February 2012

Apple Pruning, Its Fourth Year.

The team have been working in the orchard since Monday pruning all the apple and pear trees, the fourth year of our pruning programme to reduce the height and increase the yield of our trees.

New blades on the saws, sharpened secateurs and a new chain on the chainsaw makes the job easier. All the wood cut from the trees is chipped. This year the chipper was hitched up to the back of a tractor and brought down to the edge of the orchard, a far more efficient way of working rather than taking, what would have been, the large number of trailer loads full of wood to the chipper at the other end of the college sports field.

Particular attention was paid to a very old apple tree in the corner of the orchard that has been slowly brought back to life over the last three years. Back in the pruning of 2010, rather than fell the tree, it was decided that we would have a go at rejuvenation. The tree had its old limbs cut back severely in the hope this would stimulate a lot of new growth. Last year the tree has produced this growth, one year old wood, and now it has lots of two year old wood. As most of this young growth has grown vigorously, straight up in the air, weights have been tied to them to bend them down.

The method of weighing down young growth was used on another tree a few years ago and proved very successful. This old tree now looks like a piece of modern art with bits of wood hanging from it and of course nothing has been wasted as these pieces have been recycled from other trees.Once the sap starts rising up the tree and along the weighed down young growth, they will continue to grow in their new direction, we can then take the weights off.


  1. My apple trees are 30 years old, and they are as tall as 6 meters. I need to trim the height to 3 meters during the next winter. Therefore, I have to prepare new growth to replace old big branches during this growing season.

  2. Thank you for your comment. Our project, to reduce the height of the largest trees, has taken four years and they are now down to a more managable height, although the largest of the trees always wants to regrow to their old height due to the rootstock they are grafted onto. We take only one or two major limbs off on the big trees each year and shorten other limbs, being careful not to take too much off as the tree will put all its energy into growth and not fruit production. Good luck with your pruning, we will be back in the orchard next February to continue working on the trees. Regards Allison, Gardener.