Fruit tree pruning can be divided into two parts – winter and summer. Winter pruning encourages growth, summer pruning restricts growth and encourages fruit bud formation for the following year. So summer pruning is great to develop restricted forms of trees –

  • for apples & pears (pome fruit) – espaliers, cordons & stepovers
  • for stone fruit – plums & cherries aswell as pome fruit if wished – fans

Summer pruning is also good to do on free grown bush trees where you wish to slow down growth perhaps or where winter pruning has resulted in a lot of new vegetative growth. Removing growth when in leaf takes away the trees energy that would be withdrawn into the tree and its roots otherwise when dormant

When is it done? In late summer, August usually when growth has mostly been made and has become firm. Have a look at the growth. At the base should be a basal cluster of leaves close to where growth started (shown below where the bottom right knife is pointing) then extention growth with leaves further apart.

What is pruned? Any current seasons growth longer than a secateurs length. Any shorter growths leave to grow on and pune if longer than a secateurs length late September.

Newly planted espaliers and cordons

Cordons planted over the winter will have produced growth from the main stem and from cut back laterals. Any laterals arising from the main stem cut back to three leaves above the basal cluster, shown in above photo where upper left knife is pointing).  Shoots arising from cut back laterals reduce to one leaf above the basal cluster to start producing the spur fruiting systems.

Espaliers started from bare rooted trees will have been cut back to around 45cm and will have hopefully developed a nice upright shoot and two reasonably equal first tier side shoots. Not all trees grow nice and equal though! If any laterals have arisen from the first tier cut back to three leaves.

Espaliers - Summer PruningWe have supplied some trees in containers with the first tier in place. Assuming they are now developing a second tier reduce back any side shoots on first tier laterals to one leaf as per cordons.

For further guidance on restricted tree training visit the pruning advice page.