Pruning water sprouts now, Oct 3?

Hi all,

My pear tree is out of control with water sprouts. I cut them all back in early spring, then AGAIN in June. They are back with a vengeance. I wasn’t able to cut them as they showed up as I had to leave for a month. Do I wait till next spring, or cut them back now? I’m in upstate New York, so, still pretty warm during the days but dropping to 40’s at night.
Any advice greatly appreciated!

I would get them out now. Cut them down to the bottom three leaves and when they come back do it again and again, the sooner the better. Eventually they may get the message and become spurs. My pear really lives for the day it can produce more water sprouts!


If your tree is out of control the best solution is to remove perhaps the most vigorous sprouts and tie other to below horizontal if there’s branches to anchor them to. That won’t coax flower buds forming until next season (flowering the following) but sending more energy to producing flowers instead of wood is always helpful in accelerating maturity.

When a tree is mature, repeated cutting of less vigorous shoots is a way to produce spur wood, but stub cuts on young trees can delay maturity. Mostly that technique is used on espaliers, although it should also work on any form of management. It isn’t how I coax pears into productivity, however, except with espaliers because the alternative I suggest wouldn’t lead to a compact espalier form.