Summer Pruning for a Small Fruit Tree

I did a search…and seems we havent discussed this much… Summer Solstice pruning for a smaller fruit tree… Not sure if its common knowledge or new to some folks… but personally i want small compact fruit trees.

Late winter is an ideal time to prune for structure and aesthetics, but not for controlling height: Branches grow vigorously in spring. To keep your tree small and sturdy, prune in June, around the summer solstice. By removing leafy growth then, your tree is put on a diet of sorts; fewer leaves means less photosynthesis, which decreases the amount of food made by the plant. Reducing available nutrients and energy, along with summer pruning, helps your tree stay short.

By the time of the solstice in late June, a tree’s resources will have migrated from the roots and trunk to be stored primarily in the foliage. Solstice pruning will remove some of those resources and reduce late season root growth. In other words, summer pruning will slow a tree down, a desirable result for compact fruit trees.

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love David the good! i always tell my wife when she passes im going to put her ashes in my compost pile and use it to feed her blackberries. lol! hey, why waste good nutrients!

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Today is solstice 2023.

I read “Grow A Little Fruit Tree” over the winter. This video gives me the confidence and know-how to do what must be done tomorrow.

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Haha typo 2024

I need more coffee

Most who spend their lives tending fruit trees believe the best time to prune is when the pruners are sharp.

That is the old adage, but if I’m thinning fruit, and I usually am in spring when I’m not spraying, I have my pruners with me. What you cut in mid to late spring will likely be more dwarfing than same removal by the beginning of summer… the concern is about regrowth, but you have to wait until late summer to prevent that.

My own trees get pruned throughout the growing season to keep light where I want it and to remove unwanted growth from my nursery trees.

I don’t think the Solstice has any special meaning, but I don’t start summer pruning customer trees until mid-July, so they don’t get upset by the amount of regrowth. Yes, pruning a few weeks sooner is likely more dwarfing, but I don’t think a few weeks matters much if you are pruning to dwarf a tree.

Not to question the fruit tree wisdom of the editors of the Mother Earth News.

In regions without summer rain you can control vigor most effectively with the spigot, I would think.

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In terms of size control, my biggest challenge seems to be with my apricot. This tree is on a Manchurian apricot rootstock and just loves to grow. It went from 8 to 14 feet tall last year and I brought it down closer to 10 with dormant pruning, but was hesitant to take too much since I still wanted a good crop. I harvested more than 150 apricots off the tree this year and it is growing like crazy again - most new shoots are 4 feet long or longer and showing no sign of slowing. I wouldn’t be surprised if this tree was getting close to 18 feet tall by fall which is too much.

I would like to give it a really hard prune now and cut most of the new growth back to a few inches and possibly take some larger branches back beyond that as well. My biggest concern would be harming the tree or possibly not having enough time for the new wood develop mature fruit buds by fall.

I’d appreciated any thoughts from @alan or others with apricot experience on how hard you can prune an apricot back this time of year without possibly killing the tree or greatly reducing your harvest the next year.

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I have a kind of informal apricot espalier thing happening against the eastern and southern wall of my house. One of the trees is a 20 year old Alfred that takes about 2 weeks to replace whatever I prune off of it. I keep at it for as long as there is fruit on the tree to keep light near the fruit. The other 3 do not have the same massive root systems yet so don’t need nearly as much pruning for this purpose.

I do not have a useful suggestion beyond using a hedge shear and pruning often during the growing season. However, for best fruit yield you need to prune more carefully so you leave lots of fine wood. The fine wood will bear lots of fruit, which in itself is dwarfing.

For espaliers, you can actually make use of a hedge shear and only do fine pruning once in early spring. Just leave enough small wood in the process of leaving too much stubby big wood. Cut out the thicker diameter stubs in early spring. For free standing trees don’t prune back the smaller fruiting wood at all except for renewal and to remove excess.

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