The Dirt Diva

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Late Winter Tree Pruning, Ferndale NY


Believe it or not, trees are starting to grow right now. As day and night time hours balance out, trees begin to wake up, or break dormancy. This is a good time to prune your fruit trees, since they are not in a stage of vigorous growth yet. Dormant pruning is an invigorating process. During the fall, energy is stored primarily in the trunk and root system to support the top portion of the tree. If a tree is pruned in late winter, while the tree is dormant, the tree’s energy reserve is unchanged. Pruning should begin as late in the winter as possible to avoid winter injury. For our area, that means late February to early March. Apple and pear trees should be pruned first, followed by cherry, peach, and plum. A good rule to follow is to prune the latest blooming trees first and the earliest blooming ones last. Another factor to consider is tree age. In general, the oldest trees should be pruned first, because younger trees are more prone to winter injury from early pruning. The basic goal of pruning is to provide good air circulation and light access. Crossed limbs extending from narrow crotches should be removed, as should dead limbs and suckers-those skinny shoots appearing by the dozen usually pointing straight up. Since pruning can be tricky as you are learning, consult an experienced pruner for guidance, or do an online search for dormant fruit tree pruning. Learning how to prune and train your own fruit trees is a satisfying experience in self reliance, and so satisfying when you’re done!

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