Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pruning Apple Trees

   The warmer weather last week gave us a chance to get most of our apple orchard pruned.  Dormant pruning of apple trees is a big job, especially on varieties like 'Enterprise' that produce a lot of vegetative growth.
   First Bill makes any large cuts needed with a chain saw.  These include large broken limbs, or limbs that are too crowded.  He didn't have to make too many such cuts this year, since we'd thinned the limbs well last year, and didn't have much limb breakage from storm damage or overcropping.
I used pneumatic loppers to thin out crowded branches, and to head back vigorous new branches from last season.
   Next we use pneumatic loppers, powered by an air compressor on the tractor, to remove vegetative watersprouts that grow straight up the center of a tree, to thin out crowded branches, and to head back vigorous new branches from last season.  Our workers were here the last two Saturday afternoons helping with this.
The apple tree on the left has been pruned with pneumatic loppers, powered by the blue air compressor on the back of the tractor.  Daniel Rennie is pruning off the many long, upright branches from the tree on the right.
   Finally, we do follow-up hand pruning, with hand pruners and long-handled loppers.  We remove any diseased portions of twigs or fruit-bearing spurs, and cut back overly long spurs and branches so the fruit doesn't weigh these branches down to the ground.  We also cut back smaller branches that are still growing too high or too far out into the aisles.
Rachael Triebel does follow-up hand pruning with hand pruners, and holds long-handled loppers to use for larger cuts.
   We'll still have great-tasting 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' apples, and 'Kanza' and 'Pawnee' pecans, for sale for the next 3 to 4 months.  From Dec. 1 to May 31 we're open by appointment, so call or e-mail a day or so in advance and leave a message saying when you're coming to get apples and/or pecans.  The phone rings in the house, and I check for messages every few hours, but on warmer days I'll be pruning in the orchards or sorting apples in the sales building.  For apple and pecan prices, scroll down two posts.  For highway detour directions, scroll down one post.