Pruning Fruit Trees and Shrubs Fruit trees have been extremely popular the past few years and that has a lot to do with people wanting to enjoy a freshly picked apple or juicy peach straight from their own backyard.
In addition to the fruit trees, many homeowners also are also gravitating towards small fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.
Besides their great flavors, the advantages of having small berry producing plants are numerous. They require less space, generally bear sooner, bloom reliably and require less maintenance against insect issues. However, the same cannot be said for grapes. Grapes require more attention and need to be on a rigorous spray schedule and can take up to three years to bear fruit.
Look for disease resistant varieties when selecting a fruit tree. In addition, look for a healthy tree with good structure. Avoid trees that are one sided. A few apple trees worth considering that do very well in our area and are disease resistant are Pristine, Goldrush, and Sundance.
As for peach trees, brown rot and bacterial leaf spot are fairly common. Brown rot infects blossoms and developing fruit, while bacterial leaf spot causes lesions on foliage, fruit and stems. Reliance is an excellent cultivar along with Elberta and Starfire. Reliance and Elberta have been popular amongst homeowners for sometime. Starfire is a new variety from the Stellar Series. It is very strong and spreading tree with excellent resistance to bacterial leaf spot and canker. Starfire is an excellent producer and has a wonderful flavor. When it comes to pruning, dwarf and semi-dwarf trees are attractive to most homeowners because they are easy to spray, prune and harvest. Pruning at planting is very important. Once this is done correctly, prune young trees only enough to shape them until they come into bearing. As trees get older, pruning should be increased. Prune and thin larger trees to improve foliage drying and to allow for better spray coverage for all parts of the tree. In addition, all sprouts or suckers at the base of trees should be removed.
Late winter or early spring is the best time to prune. Fruit trees should be pruned in the following order to avoid injury from late spring freezes: apples, pears, cherries, plums and peaches. On trees subject to frequent frost loss, pruning may follow bloom and or fruit set.
David Koester the Agricultural Agent at the Boone County Extension Office will be joining us this Saturday to discuss selecting and pruning fruit trees.