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Winter pruning — apples

December and January are pruning months for apple trees. Apples are hardy and can handle the cold. Peach tree pruning is delayed into the spring to avoid cold injury and control cytospora – a fungus that is very impactful to our peach industry. Learn more about why and how orchardists prune this month…

Why prune? At the very basic level, orchardists prune to remove dead or diseased wood. They remove a significant amount of living wood to maintain the structure, shape and size of the tree, increase the amount of sunlight that can get into the tree, and most importantly, renew the fruiting wood.

What tools are used? Hand-held loppers and saws are the main tools. Pneumonic loppers are life-savers in big orchards. Some orchards rake trimmings out and burn, while others rake them into the center aisle and flail in place for mulch. Experienced labor is key in pruning – they may be moving fast, but they are thinking of each cut, looking for the different types of wood, and not just shaping the structure for the next season, but for the life of the orchard.

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