The warm weather we had through December prevented the trees from going fully dormant. I believe we have had adequate cold temperatures to begin pruning. Always start with your oldest apple trees first, followed by oldest pears and then oldest peaches and young trees last but in the same order.
-Win Cowgill, Ag Agent Hunterdon County
Pruning and training apples is both an art and a science. This old adage is even truer in today’s modern high density orchard planting systems. Orchard productivity and development are direct functions of sunlight. Light management through proper pruning is the key to high annual yields of high quality fruit. Annual pruning is a necessary practice that maintains the profitability of an orchard. Knowing not only what must be cut out but also what should be left in and how the tree will respond is the science behind pruning. The productivity of an orchard can be affected for the next three years by cuts made this season! It is critical for growers to know what will result from management decisions made now, and understand what technique will maximize profits in the long run.
See the Plant & Pest Advisory: Fruit Edition, January 10, 2012 for detailed pruning information.