Can apple trees be pruned now?

I’m working out of my area and one of my local coworkers asked me if I could prune his young apple trees. I told him that we couldnt do it in late summer, because it would spur new growth. Now the leaves are dropping and now I’m worried it would hurt to cut them right before it starts freezing

I believe the danger is extreme cold within a few weeks of pruning. Commercial growers in the northeast sometimes send out their picking crews to prune once the harvest is complete. If the apple trees are at least 6 or 7 years old and healthy it should be fine to prune now.

A couple years back we had a heavy snow in early Oct and some very young trees were badly damaged in my nursery. They suffered no winter damage as a result.

It would also have been fine to prune in late summer- that doesn’t spur new growth in apples- I prune apples constantly from mid-July into late Sept. The mid summer pruning may be followed by some growth, but it would have occurred anyway.

I manage apples trees from Z5 to Z7 in NY and CT. I pruned some in Z5 CT two weeks ago.


Im not positive, but I think the trees were planted a year and a half ago. Having gone through their 2nd growing season. I think within 2 or 3 weeks it’ll start dipping below freezing at night, but it’ll probably be a month or more before we see any day time freezing
Should we prune them?

If they were my trees I’d wait to very late winter because they are so young. Saying that, I doubt pruning them now would hurt them, or young apple trees seriously pruned by deer in the fall would also suffer as would those snow butchered young trees in my nursery. I’ve never seen any issues with fall pruned apple trees of any age.

The main reason not to prune them now is they are using the energy from those still leafed out branches to grow more root and wood. Young trees you prune as little as possible to get to bearing size ASAP. The only pruning should be to oversized branches- those more than half the diameter of the trunk at point of attachment to trunk.

I’m going to prune the apple trees and a few peach trees tomorrow, if you guys think it won’t be detrimental. They are all finishing their second growing season. None have ever been pruned

Any tips.

I wouldn’t fall prune peaches in areas where winter temps get below 0 F. Here they are the last trees in winter-early spring to be pruned to avoid any sub-zero weather after.