Year 3 apple tree pruning help!

So I got all excited to prune this year, watched a video and knew exactly what they were talking about…then I get outside and my tree looks nothing like theirs and I’m lost again haha. Any tips on what you would prune. I DID already prune some growth that was directing back toward the inside of the tree. I have two trees here. The two pictures facing the road is Tree #1 and the two pictures facing the chickens is Tree #2. I also know because there are woods behind it, it’ll be hard to see a lot. There is also one picture of the trunk of one of them. I didnt notice this damage in the fall. I get a lot of deer that come right through this area…d

o you think its them or is it a disease or rot of some sort?

1 Like

That definitely looks like a buck rub to me. That is why a lot of people cage their trees. Deer love to do all sorts of anoying things to young apple trees. I would think you have enough in tact bark for it to heal itself as long as insects don’t move in first.


Is there anything you’d do to help it heal better/quicker or just have to let it take its course?

There are a lot more knowledgeable people on this forum than I, but from what I have read I would leave it be and monitor the healing over this growing season before making any rash decisions. As to the pruning advice, we would need a little more info. What is your goal for the tree? How tall do you want it? What rootstock is it on? Are you now going to cage the trees or do you plan on letting them grow tall enough to avoid future deer brows? Etc. etc.
There are also some really handy pruning guides on this forum if you do a search. Good luck!

Thanks for the feedback and questions. I’m open to suggestions on all of your questions haha… First time ever having apples so never put too much thought into it. I don’t know if there is something recommended or just preference. But I’d say 10-20 ft on height. I’ve seen a lot of farms having them very short so I always thought that’s how it was supposed to be. I have one fuji and one jonathan and I BELIEVE they were semi dwarfing but my wife thought it was standard…I wrote down the variety but not that part. I was thinking I’d cage them over fall/winter since that’s when the deer rub it seems. I’ll check out the search too!

Definitely a buck rub. Wrap your fruit tree trunks with aluminum screen to protect from rodents and cage your trees with welded or woven wire.

1 Like

I found that any bark trauma heals better when it is surgically cleaned, making edge of the bark one clean cut.


There ya’ go…great advice. A sharp knife to smooth up the roughness will help with the heal.

1 Like

I’d remove the damaged one and plant a new one. That wound looks pretty deep.

There’s even the option of snipping scionwood, and cutting the trunk off below the injury and re-grafting lower than where the big injury is…bark grafts or cleft grafts.


I wouldn’t remove that tree. I’ve had buck rubbed trees heal up and do just fine.