Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pruning an apple tree

We have about twenty-thirty old Great Farm apples to get back into production, all different types, some of unknown variety, possibly never to be identified. This is a little early in the year for pruning, but as there are so many, I thought I'd get started. My neighbor Hamilton gave me the idea because he was cutting back trees to allow cars to pass on his driveway.

This is my first try. The various guidebooks and bulletins I read said you could prune an overgrown apple two ways, a stiff pruning every year for a few years, ending in what would still be quite a tall tree, inconveniently so, or by "dehorning," pruning back the main scaffold branches to essentially start over from a much lower pollard.

I meant to try the former, but the lack of an apple ladder that could help me reach the high branches meant I cut lower down than intended, and I just kept going with that. We'll do a couple trees a year, and see what the results are. Possibly we'll have to get that apple ladder. A craftsman in Brooks, our friend Peter Baldwin, makes very good ones.

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