Pruning before leaf fall but after growth stops

I am in the Northeast in zone 5b.

Trees still have leaves but growth has stopped. Trees are not completely dormant.

I am thinking of getting a head start on winter pruning and am not worried of any new possible new growth not hardening off.

So my questions are: (1) does the energy that the tree is storing now going towards forming/feeding fruit buds or towards vegetative growth in the spring.
(2) Will pruning now negatively effect the bud development for next season.




I’m glad you asked that question. I’ve been having similar thoughts myself (not like I don’t already have enough to do, but there you have it!)

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I think I can mess up sap flow, but don’t quote me.

Do not do it. The conventional wisdom is the tree should be dormant so you do not get accidental energy sapping growth. I have never heard the wisdom questioned. Rather, the opposite. Now, that does not include removing damaged stuff, diseased stuff, etc., but you real pruning should be March in 5b and should be, if you can get it, a few days when it does not hit freezing at night. Then shortly thereafter in my case, probably because I am paranoid, I spray Dormant Oil, mixed with Cuprofix and Pilot 4E (the notorious Lorsban - Chlorpyrifos - about as restricted as you can get and probably not a good idea in 5b). I do that to kill borers, scale, and fight fireblight, a problem where I am. You can probably do fine with just oil and something like Cuprofix.

Now your questions - Affirmative. You will affect bud growth and yield if you prune wrong (including the wrong time) and the other risk could be introducing biannual tendencies depending on the cultivar. I recognize all may not agree with me, but I usually get ripping yields on my trees - not uncommon to get 1.5+ bushels on dwarfs, and two+ bushels on semi’s that are just 5 years old. I had some semi’s that popped 2+ and even more on Red Romes, Ben Davis (which taste good in the Shenandoah Valley), Winesap, Winecrisp, Enterprise, Golden D, Ginger Gold, Empire, and my Limbertwigs (even though not picked) look like 2+. Without a doubt, pruning is the hardest thing to get right - I consider myself to be inept compared to some - it is a real art. I just would not tempt fate.

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Off topic but do you grow camellias?

Mike, I’m not your expert. But I think you’ll lose a bit of next year’s vigor…but not the fruit buds (except those on the limbs you remove).

Mrs G…I grow just a very few Sasanquas…one is blooming already.

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