If you're like many modern homeowners, you like the idea of using at least part of your outdoor living space to provide fresh food for the family table. Just a couple of generations ago, home gardens and fruit trees were common fixtures in the average family home, but that tradition waned significantly as homeowners turned their attention to vast lawns, perennial borders, and colorful flower beds — which means that today's younger homeowners probably didn't learn much about how to trim apple trees and other home gardening basics because they weren't part of the picture when they were growing up.
A common misconception about trimming apple trees is that it's something that's done whenever the tree needs a bit of shaping up, but this approach can not only harm the health of the tree, but it can also have a negative effect on its fruit production. The following are three things you need to know about trimming apple trees.
Apple Trees Are Ideally Trimmed in Late Winter
For maximum fruit production as well as maximum protection against the spread of potentially damaging pathogens, apple trees are best pruned during late winter before they break dormancy. As long as they haven't started to develop lead buds, they are still dormant. Pathogens can't access dormant plant tissues, and you won't injure emerging growth. However, apple trees can also be carefully trimmed in spring and summer, but you need to be mindful that you may reduce fruit production if you trim off branches with blooms or developing fruit. Apple trees should never be trimmed during autumn because this will cause the tree to put forth new growth. New growth is undesirable during this time of year because the tree should be putting its energy into providing nutrients to its root system in preparation for entering dormancy.
Apple Trees Should Be Lightly Trimmed the First Two Years
It will take several years after you first plant an apple tree sapling for it to begin producing fruit, so be sure to only trim it lightly during the first couple of years so that branches have the chance to develop unimpeded. Simply remove dead material or branches that cross one another — you don't want them to grow that way.
Apple Trees Should Be Thinned if Fruit Is Too Abundant
After your tree starts producing, you'll likely be excited for when the time comes to harvest the fruit. However, apples can produce too much fruit when weather conditions are right, so be sure to trim the fruit to ensure that the apples are at least six inches apart. You'll get bigger, better apples in the end instead of an abundance of mediocre apples.
For more information about tree trimming, contact a company like Schulhoff Tree & Lawn Care, Inc.