Pruning Neglected Fruit Trees

NEGLECTED FRUIT TREES

You must be careful in pruning neglected apple and pear trees and bushes. Do not remove too much growth in any one year.

If the tree, is growing freely, there is usually a tangle of branches that bear few fruit buds except at their tips. The pruner should shorten all tall branches which cannot be sprayed or from which the fruit cannot readily be picked. Any crossing or badly -placed branches and those dead and diseased should also be removed.

Finally, if the tree is still too thick — remove more branches to open the centre to the sun . In later years the “lateral“ shoots can be shortened back when necessary. (Figs. 1 and 2).

Neglected trees in a starved condition will have almost ceased to make new shoots ; instead the branches will bear numerous spurs with weak fruit buds. In pruning remove alternate spurs. The tree should be given a generous dressing of nitrogenous fertiliser — such as sulphate of ammonia.

THE PRUNINGS OF ALL FRUITS MAY CONTAIN DISEASE AND HARBOUR PESTS SO IT IS WISE TO COLLECT AND BURN. THE ASH CONTAINS POTASH AND IS A VALUABLE DRESSING FOR FRUIT TREES.


This article should be read in conjunction with Pruning Fruit Trees. The caveats on modern methods apply to this article also.

A neglected fruit tree will probably be in a lawn or grass, it’s likely that will be growing up to the trunk. Clearing it back in a circle with a radius of at least 50cm will help reduce competition to the tree and allow nutrients to penetrate to the tree’s roots more easily.

Using a high-nitrogen fertiliser will certainly promote leaf growth but it is most likely the soil is deficient in all three of the major nutrients. A general purpose fertiliser like National Growmore or, better still, organic Blood Fish & Bone (which releases more slowly) would be of more benefit.

A top dressing of compost on the cleared area would also be beneficial and adding mycorrhizal fungi innoculant may promote better nutrient uptake.


Pruning Fruit Trees Diagram 1

Lateral shoot with small fruit bud at A and wood buds at B and C. Prune just beyond C.
Same shoot after pruning —this is called a spur.

Pruning Fruit Tree Diagram 2

2 Next season. Fruit bud A develops. Wood buds B and C produce growths. In the autumn these are pruned as indicated.