Heavy pruning = Heavy pruning


I pruned several trees really heavy last year and now I have the below results. I understand pruning the very large straight up shoots however, this looks like a mess. Now what? Prune then all???


Yep that’s what happens when you prune hard during dormant season. Those are water sprouts and you’ll need to trim a lot of them out. You should have done it during last summer because summer pruning does not force new growth. Even better you should’ve rubbed them off as they developed last spring but depending on the amount of trees you have it can be hard to keep up.

On the bright side you can make new friends by offering g them scion wood if it’s a good variety. Haha. You are going to have tons.


This is my normal approach that is highly controversial Pear trees that produce bushels of fruit and avoid disease. You might look at this thread which is a different approach to pruning than many Proper healing of branches. This is another interesting thread When Pruning Pears theres a lot to learn - Brindilla, Tira savia, Chicken Paw to name a few terms. This is how I did on fruit in 2016 Here comes the 2016 apple and Pear harvest!. I do use tipping particularly on apples which is a form of pruning but less aggressive Tipping to make a bushy more productive fruit tree


Heading cuts in winter produce watersprouts. Thinning cuts, not so much. You now need to thin most of these out.


A few of those water sprouts could be kept and bent over to horizontal or a little lower,so they start producing fruiting wood. Brady


I will put my available scion list out soon :smile::slight_smile:. Looks like I have soon pruning to do. So if I cut all these off will I find them growing back as much or more this coming season? I ordered a Silky hoping to make this as easy as possible. Thanks for all the info


If you have any water sprouts under 18" and about pencil thick, they are candidates for spur development. Prune those to two buds. Congrats on your winter stick harvest!


An approach I’m working on (i.e., trying to learn well enough to put into practice) is to convert watersprouts to fruiting wood by removing them, and then following up as soon as new growth reappears and then pruning back to three leaves Repeat as necessary, which appears to be a lot. Eventually fruiting spurs are supposed to appear.

As Bradybb says above, some of them can be bent over. I think Alan bends them forward, and then grafts to them and later removes the limb from which they grew. I wonder whether it might be worthwhile trying to train some of them into horizontal fingers if they are caught before they’re too stout.

But Clark is making a huge point which others have brought up: fruiting forces trees to put their energy into fruit instead of vegetation, and certain things, such as bending limbs to horizontal early, encourages fruiting. Very early fruiting can actually stunt a tree. Here’s Clark’s words from his earlier post, which he links above:

Many pear growers are locked in a battle with a pear tree that will never result in fruit. Instead of topping pear trees try to gradually bend the branches as they grow. In the end if you bought a standard pear tree it will get tall. The best way to keep a pear short is by producing lots of fruit and not by pruning.<<

I think it’s well worth rereading the threads Clark links to above- a lot of good discussion going on there.


All very good information. Today I spent most is the day pruning out the shoots. Going to take some time to catch up with my mistake. However like my West Va neighbor says, I will be able to provide lots of scion wood.

Thanks to everyone.


So I’m out pruning today. I have so many suckers from pruning in the winter and here I am pruning in 60 degree winter weather. I hope I can turn this around.



Keep on top of those trees this summer. Nip those water sprouts early to encourage spur growth. You definitely let them grow too much. I’m sure you got busy as most do during the summer time. I think the lesson about summer pruning is prune now or prune more later.


I wish I had seen this before the pruning. Water sprouts are used to produce secondary branches as needed along the scaffolds as suggested, by taping to horizontal using another scaffold or secondary branch for an anchor. Sometimes you don’t need tape if you just pull it under another branch. How much spacing between these lateral branches depends partially on the nature of the variety, but if you pull down more than you need you can always thin later- figure at least 8" apart from side branches on the same side. Surplus is fine because it helps calm the tree into fruit production mode as the branches should produce flower buds (which will bloom the following spring) as soon as the first season that they are pulled down. The best water sprouts to use are those that originate from the side of the branch, but if only ones from the top are available they should be put to use.

Only use water sprouts 1/3rd or less the diameter of the scaffold at point it is attached to the scaffold, if possible. The wider the relative diameter of any branch (compared to the branch or trunk it is attached to), the more vigorous it tends to be- spreading only helps so much.

The radical pruning you did just delayed real cropping for another season- the response will be the same this season as last, unless you frequently cut back water sprouts during growth to about the third bud, which may induce flowering. But it still won’t help develop a complete branch structure.

I think my general pruning instructions are in the guides section. .


I have plenty more trees to do so I will try the ideas you mention. I’m trying to cut out the straight up shoots and leave some of the sideways ones. The picture is of Golden Supremes.

My summer did let them get away with the birth of our grand daughter and mother in law falling and breaking her femur. So our hands were full. With over150 trees this will be another long year. I’ve learned not to let them get this out of control in the first place with my new trees.


Where there are not side shoots pull the uprights over- it doesn’t make that much difference in the end result.


Super looking plantings Bob!

You have the right scaffolding shape on your trees to qualify them for great fruiting.



Bob, I pruned my overly vigorous trees like you did above in the picture for quite a few years and I just produced another big pile of wood for the next year, no fruit. You can only dormant prune so much wood out before the tree decides it needs to go into overdrive on wood production for the coming year. It was only when I started tying down limbs following Alan’s suggestions that I got my too-vigorous trees under control.


What type of tape do you use for taping watersprouts to horizontal?


vinyl electric tape




Thanks Alan, Mark, Dax, and Scott… and everyone assisting with my pruning situation. For those that find themselves in the same situation using electrical tape was very helpful. For many it was nice to have more than plenty of EXTRA scion wood available.

Thanks again… I have about 20 or so more trees in the same situation and with pulling down the suckers and taping them off take a bit more time however, does make sense to what I am doing.