- Author: Leonard Cicerello
- Editor: Noni Todd
Summer Pruning Fruit Trees
By Leonard Cicerello UCCE Master Gardener
I just purchased my first fruit tree and I read about pruning fruit trees in summer. Is this advisable? Samantha T. Paso Robles
Take time to inspect your fruit trees thoroughly during the summer and identify areas for improvement. The main reasons for summer pruning include correcting an overproduction of fruit, overall tree size, safety concerns, and the presence of older, non-producing branches.
Standard pruning in winter or summer requires removal of dead, damaged, or diseased wood for sturdier branch development. Focus on minor cuts. Eliminate crossing/rubbing limbs and limbs that grow toward the center of the tree. Remove long weak growth, suckers and water sprouts. Additionally, the extra time spent correcting your trees is an opportunity to check for pests and diseases.
Some fruit trees fair better if pruned in the summer. The University of California's “The Home Orchard” recommends pruning apricot and cherry trees in July and August. Time this activity to ensure six weeks of dry weather after pruning. These trees are susceptible to Eutypa, a fungal disease that is aided by rainfall and readily enters at the site of pruning cuts.
Other candidates for summer pruning include peaches, nectarines, and Japanese plums. These fruit trees tend to grow vigorously and put on a lot of vegetative growth. Thinning vegetative growth allows more sunlight to penetrate the canopy and help ripen fruit. Thinning also allows more air circulation, thereby, reducing the risk of fungal diseases.
Summer pruning of fruit trees will be the topic and demonstration this Saturday, June 16, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Master Gardeners' Advice to Grow By workshop, located at 2156 Sierra Way, in San Luis Obispo. The workshop will be held outdoors in the garden and handouts will be provided. Sturdy shoes, hats, sunscreen and water are always recommended. Docents will be available after the workshop to answer additional questions until 1:00 pm.