Catch-up Pruning

When we arrived at this land it had twenty or so mature fruit trees, most of which appeared to have been trained and pruned at one point, but seemingly not since the 20th century.  We pruned a few last year, and got an abundance of delicious fruit in exchange.

Motivated by visions of a winter of apples and pears from the root cellar, I’ve been madly trying to get some more pruning done in this last bit of early spring before leaves emerge.  I’m generally familiar with the basics of fruit tree pruning, but I’m totally winging it when it comes to the sort of gross corrections needed on these long-neglected trees.


The Asian pear shown above produced a ton of fruit last year, but had 5 or 6 water shoots that were 4-6″ in diameter and made the tree over 30 feet high.  I didn’t have a good before picture, but I’ve tried to show the relative size of this beast “before” in the green (shoots) and red (rough foliage area) lines.

Here’s how it looks now:


I broke a lot of pruning rules here, in particular the bit about not taking more than a third of the tree off at a time.  We’ll see how that goes; in the end if we lose a year or two of fruit production in order to get this tree (and the other half-dozen in a similar state) into better shape, I think that’s a worthwhile tradeoff.

This peach tree was a bit less dramatic.  While the apples and pears are decades old, I think the peach was planted around the time the house was constructed (~2006).  So it was less out of control, but still in need of some height restraint, basic shape, and routine pruning.  Before:


And after:

Of course, I had chicken helpers following me around the orchard, excitedly scratching around under the tree canopies.

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