reviving a neglected apple tree

I recently bought a home in the Shenandoah Valley. There are several old fruit trees on the property. Most have been neglected for many years. I want to start trying to restore them a bit. The apple trees are first on my list. One is a bit over 20 foot high. I don't think they've been pruned for decades. How should I start with these trees? Can someone point me to a source online that would help me with pruning them? It's been 20 years since I lived in a house with enough yard to have any trees so what little experience I've had is nearly gone from my memory. Next project will be the mulberries. There are even a couple of white ones that have been going wild for a long time. I'm told they were planted in this area way back in an attempt to raise silk worms.
Thanks for any help Scott
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Hi Scott,
There is an abundance of articles on pruning. In your case, sounds like you need to do a lot of it. Don't make the mistake of trying to correct everything in one season. Don't remove more than 1/3 of the tree in any season, and even that is pushing things, a bit. You want to get rid of any inward growing branches. Perhaps open up the insides so that air and sunshine can penetrate more easily. Branches crossing or bumping into other branches should also be removed. I would recommend doing this while the trees are dormant, say in very early spring. Summer pruning encourages growth at the wrong time and weakens the tree for the Winter season. In any case, here are some references:
http://www.redwoodbarn.com/DE_DormPrunefruit.html
http://ag.arizona.edu/gardening/news/azdailystar/pruning_vigor.html
http://www.ianr.unl.edu/pubs/horticulture/ec1233.pdf
http://www.eap.mcgill.ca/CPTFP_7.htm
http://www.hortsource.com/rlPpruning.htm
http://www.hortsource.com/rlPpruning.htm
http://www.treesaregood.com/treecare/pruning_young.aspx
These should keep you busy for a while, and hopefully you will find what you are looking for.
Sherwin D.
scott wrote:

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You can take out all the dead wood now, plus as Sherwin says, up to 1/3 of the live wood. The mulberries weep a lot from cuts, and besides taking out the dead wood, prune them only in november, so they have time to close the wound. Mulberries typically need very little pruning. Do try the berries in june-july, if they are good they are a great thing to have (no spray, early fruit, shade tree, and all it takes to get a gallon of them is spread a clean tarp and shake the tree).
If they have not been pruned in decades, it might take you 3 years to get the apples back in shape. When they start fruiting (which might be this year, given the stimulation of a hard pruning), prune the immature apples mercilessly. You should leave no more than a young apple for every 30 leaves. Obviously, the trees will be Pestville after so many years so you will have to start spraying right away if you want apples.
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On Thu, 26 Jan 2006 07:29:53 -0800, simy1 wrote:

We did get a lot of mulberries in the summer. The white ones had very little taste but the red/black ones were great. The apples might have been neglected longer than I first thought. The rusted up pump mounted near them has a 1902 patent engraved on it. We moved in last winter but I'm only now getting the chance to work on things outside the house. The few apples that we saw on the trees this year were in very bad shape. It sounds as if it will take a few years to get them back in decent shape. It will give me something to keep me out of trouble on my days off I guess.
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