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Fruit Trees

Nigel's Fruit Tree Pruning Tips

Training of a fruit tree begins in the early years, and the aim is to develop a well balanced framework of branches that are capable of supporting the fruit crop. This permanent framework provides the reference points for pruning a mature tree.

Early pruning should only be enough to establish this desired framework; heavy pruning on a young tree can delay fruiting. I find open centre pruning is the most common and the most beneficial to use on fruit trees. This is the style of pruning I will explain today.

Open style pruning produces a bowl or vase shaped tree with no main central branch but instead many of the major limbs, or scaffold branches, angle outwards from the main trunk. These branches usually start at about 2 to 3 feet above the ground and should spiral around the tree with about 6 inches between each of the branches. Being able to identify the difference between new and old growth and what is a fruiting spur and a fruiting bud is important when pruning.

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How to Plant Fruit Trees

 

Fruit trees grow best in full sun locations where the ground drains well. Most home gardeners will want to plant semi-dwarf fruit trees, these being about a third smaller than their standard counterparts. As semi-dwarf trees are smaller they will easier to pick the fruit from and easier to prune.

Some of the best types of trees to grow in our area are apple, pear, cherry and plum. Once you have decided on the type of tree, you need to decide how many trees you have room for. If you only want one tree, be sure to get a self-fertile tree. Otherwise, your tree will not reliably set fruit. Pollination can be complicated so be sure to take the time to discuss pollination when you purchase your trees. We will help you with that.

Peaches are a bit trickier to grow in our climate but can be grown against a south or west wall with an eave over them to keep rain off their leaves. The reason for this is because peaches are very susceptible to a fungal problem called 'Leaf Curl' on our wet west coast. Renton and Frost Peach are excellent varieties for our area because they are less susceptible to Leaf Curl but the excellent flavour of Redhaven makes it a common choice as well.

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