Fall Apple Tree Planting - Prune now or in Spring?


I have just planted four apple trees, and I will be planting a fifth one next week. Nearly everything I have read has said to cut the whips back immediately, but all the articles referred to spring planting.

Since the trees will be dormant the next 4 months, do I wait till early Spring to cut them back, or do I do it now?


I suppose I can just wait till early spring since the trees are dormant now anyway.

I would prune them back now. That would give them a little extra time to get the right buds ready for spring.

Since you said they are dormant, pruning now or in a couple of months in your growing zone wont make a difference in my opinion.

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At this point I would wait until spring to prune. This also gives you a little time to consider how you want to prune them. If you decide to graft scions from theses trees they are also available.

I agree with @Auburn. Here’s a good article from Penn State Extension to help you make your decision.

First paragraph:
“It seems that we are experiencing more unusually warm periods during mid- and late-winter, so trees may be more susceptible than in the past to moderately low winter temperatures. Lessons from years in which there was a sudden drop in temperature indicate that trees most injured were those that lacked adequate vigor, those that were too vigorous, and those that had been pruned before the cold event.”

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Thanks, all, for your responses. I have decided to wait till late winter to prune them. Thanks, SMC, for the link to the article. That was interesting reading and helped inform my decision.

Just for what it’s worth, I’m new to this. I just planted the following, and I’m looking forward to fruit in the next several years.
–King David (M111)
–Mammoth Black Twig (M111)
–Goldrush (M111)
–Virginia Beauty (B9)
–Williams’ Favorite (B9)

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Gardening podcast I listens to puts it this way. Your going to loose a few inches to winter damage. If you prune in the fall your are still going to loose a few inches to winter damage.