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ripening apples on the branch

Pruning an apple tree requires some experience. When the right time for the pruning measures has come differs between fast-growing and slow-growing varieties. In addition to the main prunings in spring and autumn, you can also prune the trees in summer, provided you observe the special regulations for this time of year. The weather, cutting frequency and technology also play a role.

Cut apple tree: timing

Proper and regular pruning is essential for tree health. Diseased and dead branches are removed so that the wood can invest all of its energy in the development of flowers and fruits. Two cuts per year are ideal so that the tree sprout vigorously and develop many flower buds. By pruning the tree correctly, you prevent diseases and pests from occurring. When cutting, make sure that there is a balance between annual and biennial shoots:

  • Leaves develop on annual shoots
  • Foliage provides the tree with energy
  • Flower buds develop with sufficient energy on biennial branches

tip: If the apple tree has borne little fruit in the previous year, you can cut it back generously. If the harvest was plentiful, limit yourself to the bare essentials when cutting.

note the weather

Choose a day when the thermometer did not drop below zero. The wood is very brittle from a temperature of -5 °C. A cut can damage the wood and create entry points for pathogens and pests. If you prune the apple tree later in the year, you should wait for a longer dry spell. Then the branches are dry and can be removed more easily. Soaked wood cuts less well and offers better growing conditions for pathogens.

spring pruning

From November to March, the apple tree is dormant so that it does not carry any juice in the pathways. From February, fast-growing varieties can be pruned easily and gently. Malus domestica only develops fresh buds in the following growth phase. With targeted pruning measures, you can bring the tree into a desired growth form, because it will sprout again at the interfaces. Pruning in the spring has many advantages:

  • better overview as branches are leafless
  • Malformations and adhesions become visible
  • Cuts heal faster
  • less susceptibility to pests and fungi

summer cut

Between March and September, the Federal Nature Conservation Act prohibits radical pruning measures on trees and shrubs. This is intended to protect nesting sites for birds that choose apple trees and other fruit trees as breeding grounds. Gentle care cuts are allowed, however, as long as they do not disturb breeding birds. These measures are recommended shortly after flowering. Then you can see which branches are barely flowering and can be removed. With targeted pruning measures, you promote the ripening of the fruit on the remaining branches, so that you can improve your harvest.

  • Prune weak-growing varieties in summer
  • Prune trees in summer to correct spring pruning
  • shape freshly planted trees directly

fall pruning

From October the breeding season of the birds ends and you can use the hedge trimmers a second time. Varieties that grow particularly strongly should also be pruned in autumn in order to increase the harvest in the following year. Remove branches that have broken under the weight of the apples. Cut off all branches that are too close together on the apple tree and thin out the crown of the tree. As a result, strong and healthy branches get enough light again. Focus on the water saplings that bend inward or grow too tall. Spreading and overhanging branches are left standing. Check the crown for underdeveloped fruits called fruit mummies. Remove these to preserve tree health:

  • Pulp ferments and rots
  • Apples can fall and get caught in forked branches
  • Fruit mummies provide ideal breeding ground for fungal spores

notice: Did you know that water shoots sap the tree's strength because they carry excessive sap? The thin twigs are lighter in color than the other branches and grow in the center of the tree canopy.

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