Crab Apple Tree Questions

Asked June 17, 2014, 3:29 PM EDT

I'm hoping you can help me,.... I have two crab apple trees that had real nice flowers in the spring about 3 weeks ago. I want to prune them now. I've been told I need to wait till dormant season or I'll kill the tree. But, there are oodles of smaller dead branches that need to be removed. They look to be old sucker type branches. I have the black sealer spray for after I prune them. I'm not interested in the fruit whatsoever. I only want the trees for shade. They are Approximately 20' tall. There are numerous small holes in the one but not as much as the second one. Not real deep. Maybe 1/8" wide by 1/2" deep max. My questions are: 1. Can I prune now? 2. What are the small holes from? Is there something I could do to avoid them? Do they effect the longevity of the tree? 3. Are the dead branches something to be concerned about? It looks almost like wherever the upper growth of the tree is, and blocked light to the smaller sized dead branches, is where the dead branches end up. Thank you in advance for your time!

Otsego County Michigan

6 Responses

You can prune the tree now. Yes you are right the upper limbs are shading out the lower limbs. You can cut out. You might want to make so cuts in the top of the tree to let light in or you may want to let it continue to grow and provide shade. The holes look like woodpecker holes. That is either the bird looking for food or tapping the tree to establish its territory. A woodpecker would be looking for insects in the bark or a sapsucker looking to drink sap

Thanks so much for your prompt reply! I've managed to get one tree about 80% complete. It looks "much" better. I'm hopeful to finish it s well as the second tree this weekend.

Hi Mark,

I have a question if you don't mind about Lilac trees/Bushes. Can you tell me if I should cut where the single piece of tape is, or where the two pieces of ta

I would remove the whole branch with the single piece of tape at about ground level. You can thin out the top of the bush by making some thinning cuts on canes at the double tape level, but you should have some new shoots coming from the ground to replace the older canes. I would recommend removing one or 2 of the large canes every year to force new growth from the base.

Thanks Mark! Again, just to clarify, when I'm done, I'd have removed two completely @ ground level, but leave all others intact but prune them down to where the double tapes are? Could I remove more than 2?

I would not take off more than two a year. You can do more thinning of the canopy above to let in more light. You can also remove stuff up high like the old blooms and fruit. Best time of year is probably right after bloom as then you get to enjoy the bloom and the plant gets the most time to grow after pruning.