Prune as you go (ie spring, summer pruning)

I am looking for a little feedback on whether I’m making a mistake or not in something I do to most of my trees, but lets concentrate on peaches. Even in the spring and summer, I usually carry a pair of hand pruners with me whenever I walk through my little orchard. My peach trees are all open center, but of course growth often occurrs up and down all the limbs that is on the upward and inward facing side. In many cases, it is very obvious that, if left alone, many of those new growth areas will become limbs or water sprouts that will grow toward the inside of the tree and eventually need to be pruned. So I have been just cutting all new growth on the top, inward facing portion of all my peach (and other stones, but this is about peaches) tree limbs AS IT OCCURS. My logic is that it seems wasteful to let a tree put energy and nutrients into growth that will eventually be cut off anyway.

I’ve seen discussions about summer pruning and the consensus on this site seems to be that its ok for minor pruning. But I’m not sure how much is too much- though I’m only talking about a few inches or smaller growths here…just the new stuff that pushes in spring and summer on top,inside of limbs.I also don’t know if what everyone else is talking about the same kind of pruning I’ve just described.

Part of me worries that by cutting off all the above described growth, I might be hurting the tree’s ability to generate energy and growth for the whole tree via photosynthesis. Maybe the tree needs all the leaves it can get in spring and summer, even if I am going to eventually prune them in winter? Or, hopefully, I’m doing what everyone does and just don’t know it? So…can you guys please advise me whether its ok to cut new growth all spring and summer as soon at it appears on inward facing locations or if I should leave it to feed the tree and then cut it in the winter if it does grow into a limb/water sprout by then. Thanks, all.


That’s what I’d do. Cut it out early rather than late after it’s shaded out wood that I want to keep.


Continuous pruning sounds like a smart idea to me. As I’m winter pruning I always think about how much energy was wasted growing water sprouts and crossing branches that I could have easily removed when they were tiny twigs.


On our small farm we prune various fruits as needed in spring and early to mid summer. The trees have plenty of time to keep growing and compensate for any loss of leaves to pruning. There are some caveats though. Like right now we wouldn’t prune any pears or quince that might get fire blight because the cuts would expose the tree to infection. But peaches are fine to prune through spring. We almost always remove water spouts on older apples in late June or July to let light into the center of the tree so the fruit colors better.

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I usually prune apples as I bag them in the spring

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I also rarely walk through my orchard without my box cutter in my pocket. I’m trying to become a smarter pruner but sometimes a few cuts when needed seems like a good practice. Bill

With cherries summer is the best time to avoid diseases as it is dry. I also like to prune whenever I see a problem. My latest pruning was to concentrate sap flow to grafts, removing small limbs on the same branch. You have to be careful though as if graft is not growing the tree could decide to abort branch. So I do it only after graft starts to grow. I also like that summer pruning induces less vigor than winter.
I guess major thought is shape in winter, and prune to reduce height in summer.

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Wow! I’m glad you asked, because I’ve been doing the same thing without thinking about it!

I walk around and look at my garden/trees every few days, and if I see something I don’t like, I take it off with my fingernails.

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I’ve seen that happen a few times. Brady

I have been pondering the same thing because I am compulsive about shaping the trees. I treat almost my whole yard like bonsai, and constantly pick and shift and bend and wire branches. I am always worried I am going to be stunting the tree, but it makes no sense to me to allow the tree to harden side branches I don’t want when I have branches I do want. I think maybe my methods would be non optimal on full size trees, on a bigger lot, and they certainly aren’t low maintenance, but I think for the backyard orchardist, fussing over the trees is part of the reward, so I am trying to grow them into exactly what I want.


The only thing I am concerned about is over pruning apple trees.

With apples, pruning a lot could result in a tree not producing fruit buds but putting out vegetative growth instead to make up with the losses.

I’ve been obsessively pinching off any growth from the stock of my newly-topworked apple, but I suspect there’s a point when I ought to give up on the failed grafts and let the stock go, if only to have more wood to graft to

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I look at pruning as a ‘sap management’ effort. The carbs in the sap are the wealth that the tree generates. Small trees need wealth accumulation to put on growth so I’ll pinch tips just for form. Sweet fruits in particular are carb monsters and if they are not setting fruit (carb accumulation) their vegetative growth is difficult to control so I’ve had to take a hedge pruner to them all summer (they are in a trellised growing area).
The carbs are stored (invested) into the soil to feed microbes which in turn interpret the soil minerals to the root system to improve growth.
I try to keep this in mind when grafting too. Although temps determine sap flow, the leaves are a better indicator of when sap is moving, and, the fortuitous times to introduce scions into that flow. Removing growth in the vicinity of a graft as Drew said is also a ‘sap management’ effort.

It is interesting this subject came up. I just purchased and old book on the Lorrette system of pruning simply because these old books interest me. It is an old system of pruning pears and peaches in spring and thru the summer to increase fruiting, and apparently applies to apples etc. Anyway it looks like, by this thread, that many of fruit growers are doing just that, I guess what works comes down thru time.

I was wondering about the introduction of disease in spring and summer, would the risk be increased with this method?

Good luck with it. You might want to let it grow? Not sure? A really good question is should you be removing this growth? [quote=“JustAnne4, post:14, topic:10737”]
Although temps determine sap flow

I was thinking about this and when they tap maples for syrup, or I heard suggested logs for mushrooms should be removed when sap has highest pressure. Which I think is very early spring. When leaves form, sap must have been flowing for awhile to stimulate the growth. Which I think would be a good time to graft, when sap pressure is at it’s highest.Which maybe is before leaves even form.

Cherries can get a fungal infection in wood from winter pruning, so even in the winter their is some risk.

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I’m trying to force the growth into the scions

I prune as I go. With BYOC it never ends. Thinning cuts for light penetration, airflow, and to thin a lot of fruit quickly. Topping cuts to maintain size and allow easier BirdBlocking, harvesting and in some cases so I can walk/weed/mulch/irrigate around the tree a little easier.

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Yes, me too, not sure how effective it is though?