controlling apple tree height

Asked March 29, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT

I have a young apple tree, I think it is about 4 or 5 years old. I prune it each year to try to shape it properly. I am very new to this and look it up every year to try to get it right. I don't want to have it grow very tall so it will be easy to harvest and won't get in the way of power lines. How do I go about keeping it shorter? I have read that topping a tree is bad for its strength and don't know how to do this. How short can I keep it?


Jefferson County Colorado trees and shrubs pruning trees

3 Responses

You are correct, topping a shade tree is not recommended. Fruit trees are a different matter because your goals are different. You can keep the head of your apple tree as low as you want by removing the leader, AKA, topping. Try to remove any offending branch before it reaches 2" in diameter and you should be okay. I maintain some apple trees at the Jefferson county fairgrounds if you would like to see how to prune your tree.

Thank you. I will go to the fairgrounds and look at the apple trees. That will be very helpful. When should I go and where are they in the fairgrounds? If you are pruning those now I guess I should be as well.

Thanks, Shannon

Dear Shannon, The trees are planted along the outside of the CSU Extension Research and demonstration garden; where the pergola is. 4 of the trees are being trained on the fence. Two other trees are being trained into the modified central leader form. These trees are near the fire plug. The large tree next to the compost bin is the best example, I have applied yellow tape to the 4 major scaffold branches I intend to keep throughout the years. Pruning and training is a continual, annual process. The one major rule to pruning is: Never remove more than 25% of the total wood in any one year.