Is it too early to prune new growth?

Here in NY Z5b the trees have finally realized that spring is really here.

In the last week I’ve had explosive growth on my espalier apples and pears to the point that I am wondering if it is too earl;y to start pruning to try to increase creation of fruiting spurs and to avoid the new growth from shading the fuitlets.

Below are just two examples of the growth I am thinking of pruning down to the third leaf to encourage fruit sour development. This is vegetative growth starting at points I pruned last year but which did not develop spurs

and …




I don’t see why not? Just try to do it during a dry spell.

I had the same question but then I figured it had to be done. I’ve cut back the plums and almonds 2X already (I kept it to 4-6") and they’re getting another trim soon, and it’s only May. Apples got one trim and cherries got some trimming, but I want to train the limbs some before cutting for the reasons you describe. Plus, I want reachable, protectable fruit after all is said and done.

@JustAnne4, @Drew51

One of the questions in the back of my mind which I left un-asked is…

Is this new growth useful or necessary for the growth, formation and development of the new fruitlets below it?

I remember reading last year some postings by @alan talking about early “shading” of the leaves around the fruit being detrimental, (BUT I CAN’T FIND THAT THREAD.)


I don’t grow apples or pears. Others may know lot more. It’s a good question. With peaches the new growth represents next year’s fruiting wood, cut it all off, no fruit next year. A pain to manage peaches! I know apples can produce on older spurs.
The leaves around the fruit are the fruit’s only source of energy. Trees are simple and sharing resources are limited. On sweet cherries on dwarfing rootstock, you need to consider the leaf to fruit ratio. Branches are tipped to remove huge branch end fruit buds with not enough leaves to make the fruit sweet. Sugar is produced by chloroplasts, the green of the leaves. So knowing somewhat the physiology of trees in general the new growth has little to do with the fruit if not within a couple feet of the fruit.

Yes i would agree, except if on the same branch, those leaves will make the fruit sweet, you don’t want close leaves to the fruit shaded. I’m not really sure about the fruit itself if it matters? But if those nearby leaves are shaded, they will not have sugar to transfer to the fruit. the more sun, the more sugar. Natures solar panels. Sugar should be looked at as a form of energy. Fat in our bodies is not burned, it’s turned into sugar when we need energy. Fat is just a way to store energy long term in a stable form.

If it takes 30-40 leaves to adequately sweeten a fruit while also allowing enough surplus energy to produce flower buds for the next season it’s probably safe to assume that beyond that, especially in extension outward that shades the closer leaves, removing growth you would eventually remove anyway has to be a plus- sooner the better.

On apples, recent research shows that after a few weeks of shade, leaves lose all ability to photosynthesize for the season so you can imagine how detrimental this could be to the fruit and a trees ability to bear annually. Just because the research has only been done on apples does not mean it isn’t logical that it applies to all or most trees, fruiting or not.

Since I’ve been in the habit of removing excess growth while thinning fruit (which I’m already doing) for a couple of years, I have some anecdotal evidence it does improve annual bearing. Obviously it also helps with air circulation.

Speaking of thinning fruit, I’m noticing that if you want to thin saucer peaches with much less effort do it very early. The stems get a lot tougher later and a couple weeks after petal fall they are easy to pull off the tree.