Pruning apple trees now
We have several small apple trees - all about 15 years old. They are bearing fruit this year but it is all infected despite our regular Neem treatments. I would like to simply prune the trees now, removing all fruit and extraneous limbs (and hopefully the disease vectors), and start over again next year. Will this harm my trees in any way? Any other thoughts?
Washington County Oregon
Thanks for your apple pruning questions. Removing all the fruit and thinning out the limbs is a logical first step in revitalizing your small orchard. Prune not more than 1/3 of the tree canopy, at this time, less is better. It would be very helpful if you can identify the specific disease attacking your apple trees. This knowledge would greatly assist future tree management. There are different organic remedies available and application timing is key for achieving dormant spray success. Also timely using beneficial insects would aid in successful destructive insect management. With your thinning process, do not leave any removed fruit or pruned limbs in your yard or your compost pile as many diseases and insect pests overwinter in situ and regenerate the following spring.
Growing Tree Fruits and Nuts in the Home Orchard is available at
https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/ec819. This publication by Jeff L. Olsen gives guidelines for growers and describes how to plan your home orchard, planting and early care, care of bearing trees, and harvesting and storage.
EC 819 Revised December 2009 12 pages