March is the perfect month for pruning and I finally got into my shed and found my tools – though they need a sharpening I set about pruning a couple trees. 1 was my daughter’s maple. I took out a couple competing leaders, some branches that were crossing or bound to rub and took out a few extra branches to allow air movement – much less likely to have severe branch breakage during future windstorms. With the fruit tree, it will also allow for easier picking which won’t be for another 3-5 years (pears don’t bear fruit until about 7 years old).
When pruning you can take up to 1/3 of your branches out – but no more. It’s both easier on you and and your tree if you trim some small branches every year instead of waiting for them to get bigger and then deciding to take them out — you’ll need heavier-duty pruners or a saw and it leaves a much bigger wound on the tree.
An additional school of thought on fruit tree pruning is that you should be able to pick from your knees to as high as you can reach while standing. I debated this but couldn’t bring myself to lop off the top of my tree. Above it the before and after of my pruning of my pear tree – I have another planted at the same time but is double the size. I haven’t tackled that one yet. One thing I didn’t realize about pear trees is that the branches are lined with shorter branch/thorns. These are wicked especially when trying to mow around. I even had one nearly go through my shoe that was on a branch I trimmed – I made sure to pick up all of them and dispose where they couldn’t do any harm.
My daughter’s maple is showing more wear from sun scald. It’s now going into the main layer of the trunk. This is quite unfortunate – not much can be done I fear. I’ll just have to watch it and we may possibly picking out a new tree in the next 5 years. I’ll do a little more research before writing it off completely.
Pruning her tree I took out two extra competing leaders. These are branches that are surpassing the main lead branch rising straight from the trunk. Competing leaders can put stress on a tree and cause the branches they are on to be too weak to support them. This is how trees end up splitting in a storm. I took off the lowest branch as well. It was getting heavy and a very acute angle. The perfect angle means you can take your finger and run it all the way down to the crook of two branches while still touching both.