Pruning fruit trees - why and when
Below is a very concise guide on how to prune fruit trees from Alan, who runs Fruitworks Coop. Alan and myself are both based at West Leeds Activity Centre and as I improve soil health and Alan improves tree health it makes sense that we showcase each other's work. Enjoy, Mark
"Pruning fruit trees helps them be healthy and productive. Without pruning, fruit trees can get diseased, over-sized and difficult to pick. Broadly speaking pip fruit (apples & pears) are pruned in the winter and stone fruit (plums & cherries) in the summer. The only exception to that is "trained" trees, which are pruned in the summer to limit growth to a particular shape".
Winter pruning is about encouraging growth (in helpful, happy directions) and summer pruning is about reducing vegetative growth to divert energy into fruit development. Plum trees are pruned in the summer because of their susceptibility to a fungal disease called "Silver Leaf". The approach to cutting can be summarised as 3 D's and 2 C's.
Dead, Dying and Diseased.
Crossing and Congested
You need to prune crossing branches as they can create open wounds which could become infected. Congested areas reduce air flow through the tree.
Finally, if you have taken out more than a fifth of the volume of the whole tree stop there for this year. If you haven't, then carry on cutting above an outward facing bud to encourage growth in desirable, 45 Degree angles.
@fruitworkscoop run regular courses to help you learn for yourself how to prune trees. Or they have a pruning service to do it for you.