Two years ago, I planted several varieties of pear and apple trees in a
small orchard on my property, in central Va.
This year, several of the pears and apples have grown to heights of 10
to 12' tall and put on a good show of blooms, which have subsequently
turned into all manner of pears and apples.
My problem is this : the fruit is weighing down the branches
substantially. I have read that I should prune off the fruit to one
every 4 to 6 inches. But, as I had not expected fruit this year anyway,
I am considering just removing all of the fruit (I am not certain that
some of the branches could hold even one FULL grown apple or pear.)
But, before I take any drastic measures, I thought I would post to this
group to see if any helpful advice might be available.
Thanks in advance for your time,
If you do not want fruit why did you plant them?
You can do as you wish. Removing the fruit will not harm the tree, in
fact the tree will have more energy to devote to foliage and root
development. If you have not dealt with fungal and insect pests by
now the fruit is likely to be full of unsavory critters and blemishes
However, you may want to remove most of the fruit and let some
develop. It is up to you.
Certainly any branch that cannot support fruit should have the fruit
removed before damage occurs.
Pruning gets to be an art form. It is a continuous process and takes
years to get the trees into the right form. That means low branches, in
layers, and spread out like the fingers on your hands. That allows for
sunlight to come in, air flow keeps down diseases, you have access for
spraying and picking.
There are a small number of rules for pruning. First, cut out any dead
wood. Second, cut off the sprouts (suckers) going straight up from the
branches. Third, cut out any shoots that are going back towards the
trunk. Fourth, remove crossed wood.
It's a little hard to say what to do with your situation without being
able to see it. I tend to think you should chop off the central trunk
and let new leaders form over the next few years. Select one as the new
leader and use the others to create another layer of branches.
Remember, fruit trees love to be trimmed and pruned. You can't go
wrong. Be sure to spray at least once a month. This year, I'm making
"bags" to enclose the developing fruit out of old plastic window
screen. I hope this will protect the fruits from birds, squirrels, and
it is possible that, because this is the first year they are fruiting,
you are going to have a grace period before the moths find your
orchard, but don't coun t on it. The rule of thumb for grown trees is
to have one fruit for every 25 leaves, so pick off the excess fruit and
hope you can enjoy the rest. Given the youth of the trees, perhaps you
can go down to one fruit per 30 to 50 leaves, on the other hand it
sounds like the trees are developing nicely, so I see nothing wrong
with enjoying a little fruit this year. I am against pruning branches
this early in the game, it is wasteful.
If this is the first year you are getting fruit on these trees, you should
all of them, to encourage better root growth and take the strain off these young
I find it strange that you went from no fruit to suddenly having loads of fruit.
My experience with
new trees is that they start off with just a few fruits their first production
Pruning is not the answer to your problems, whereas thinning should work.
branches should thicken up by next year to support the fruit. I also use a
wooden sticks to prop up heavy branches, and I will also tie outlying heavy laden
branches with twine to a point on a stronger branch or the main trunk. This
technique is not
foolproof, as I loose some branches, especially if some critter uses it
as a trampoline.
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