When to Prune Apples to Hasten Bearing?

I have a bunch of eight foot tall, two year old heirloom apples I bench grafted on semi-dwarf Geneva 30 rootstock. They have grown way too many branches coming off the central leader. To prevent crowding/shading/disease I have to thin out some branches, but when?

One school: Do Not prune off anything until the tree starts bearing or you’ll delay bearing. You want max leaf surface for photosynthesis to accelerate bearing.

Another school: Dormant prune off all branches except your properly positioned permanent scaffold branches. Don’t allow the tree to waste resources on branches in bad positions you’re just going to prune off in a year or two.

Which do you do, and why? This controversy has puzzled me for a long time.

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I go “another school” for most varieties, unless they are a variety that lacks vigor. Tie down those remaining branches closer to horizontal after pruning to help promote fruiting.

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How soon do you allow a young apple tree to bear fruit? Do you wait until you’ve got say two sets of scaffold branches in place and strong? I runted out a Liberty- ruined it- by letting it fruit too early.

I found a good treatment of the subject of precocity, pruning, training, rootstocks at:

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