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Ever wondered whether over pruning fruit trees and lack of fruit are related? Do you have any trees this year that don’t have fruit on them?
Not sure why?
It might be because of how you pruned them. The harder you prune your fruit trees, the more the tree will respond by growing, to replace the wood you removed. It’s important to understand this basic pruning principle.
You can clearly see it at work in these pear trees below. The trees have been hedge pruned, which has resulted in massive growth at the tops of the trees. It’s not a technique we recommend in Grow Great Fruit but is common in big commercial orchards.
What effect does hard pruning have on your tree?
If you over prune a tree, you may force it to divert all its energy into growing wood instead of producing fruit.
It’s one of the most common (but by no means the only) reasons your tree may not have fruit.
Keeping your fruit tree balanced should be your aim when winter pruning mature fruit trees. You want it to keep growing new wood each year, but you also want it to stay calm and produce plenty of fruit.
To achieve this, you want to prune it as little as possible – so there’s no risk of over pruning!
This photo above shows a President plum tree with lovely strong new shoot growth in response to last winter’s pruning.
You can see in the photo below that it also has a nice crop of fruit – success!
However for young trees, you’re aiming to tip the balance between shoot growth and fruit production firmly towards growth!
How quickly can you expect a crop on your young fruit trees?
We often get asked the question, how quickly will a fruit tree start producing fruit. In fact, they’ll often flower and bear fruit the year you plant them (depending on what type of tree they are).
However, we reckon it’s better to NOT let them have fruit until the tree’s grown enough branches.
It usually takes at least two to three years to prune a fruit tree into the right shape if you’re trying to grow a vase-shaped tree (which is a great shape for most backyards),
You can see that the tree on the left has grown strongly in the photo above of three-year-old apricot trees. In fact, it has grown enough branches to make the shape we want, i.e. a vase. We can now let it bear fruit because it’s mature enough.
However, the tree on the right hasn’t grown as well for some reason and is much smaller. We’ve taken off the fruit that set this year. The tree can then put its energy into growing new branches for at least another year before it’s allowed to have fruit.
How to reduce the risk of over pruning your tree
Learning how to look after your trees in the first 3 years will set them up for life. It’s especially important to learn how to prune them the right way from the beginning.
With good establishment pruning, you should have a calm tree that doesn’t need much pruning each year. This minimises the risk of over-pruning the tree.
It may just help to solve the problem of why your tree has no fruit!
Understanding the difference between fruit buds and leaf buds on your fruit tree makes everything else about fruit growing easier.
Queensland fruit fly is one of the hardest pests to manage organically. Get to know your enemy and don’t give up – you can fight fruit fly!
Working out how much fruit a mature fruit tree can grow will help you plan how many trees you need in your garden to meet your family’s needs.