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Pruning Neglected Apple Trees
This article was published originally on 2/9/2001
Old, neglected apple trees that haven't been pruned for several years are often tall, densely branched, unproductive, and may contain a large number of dead branches. Fruit produced on neglected trees are generally small, poorly colored with a low sugar content, and misshapened. (The misshapened fruit are caused by insect and disease pests.) Though trees may be old, structurally sound trees can produce good quality fruit if properly renovated and managed. Pruning increases fruit size, promotes better color development, increases sugar content, and decreases insect and disease problems by allowing better spray coverage and faster drying following rainfall. Pruning also makes it easier to harvest the fruit.
Extensive pruning is the first step in the renovation of neglected apple trees. The primary objectives of pruning are to reduce tree height and to thin out undesirable branches for better light penetration. Complete renovation of neglected apple trees may take 2 or 3 years. Old, neglected apple trees can be rejuvenated by following the pruning procedures outlined below. Pruning is best done in late winter/early spring (late February to early April).
Though apple trees may be old, good quality fruit can be obtained by proper pruning and timely spraying.
Additional information on pruning fruit trees can be found in Pm-780, Pruning and Training Fruit Trees.
Year of Publication:
IC-485(2) -- February 9, 2001