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Training and Pruning Apple Trees

Author(s): Amaya Atucha, T.R. Roper

Properly pruning apple trees will maximize healthy fruit production. Pruning is also necessary to remove dead, diseased, and damaged wood, to increase light penetration, to heal wounds and reduce disease, to manage fruit load, and to maintain the shape and size of the tree. There are consequences of not pruning, including an overgrown tree with a shaded canopy, low fruit quality, and reduced productivity. The best time to prune is during the dormant season. Other tips include removing suckers and water sprouts, and cutting back to an outward facing bud. Avoid pruning too much at once and to consult with a certified arborist if unsure about pruning techniques.

Late winter is an excellent time to prune your backyard apple trees and proper pruning helps your trees to produce high-quality apples. In the resources below, you will learn about how the structure of an apple tree supports fruit production and disease prevention. These resources also cover proper pruning principles to create an open canopy, remove water sprouts, and encourage horizontal branching.  

Additional information about growing apples in Wisconsin can be found on the UW-Fruit Program homepage.

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