How to prune apple trees

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To maximise your fruit crop next year and to prevent your tree getting out of control, it’s a good idea to give it a good prune.

Step 1:

Start by removing crossing, rubbing, weak, dead, diseased, damaged and dying branches

Step 2:

Shorten the previous year's growth on each main branch by about one third to a bud facing in the required direction. This will encourage the development of new branches and spurs

Step 3:

Leave young laterals (side-shoots) un-pruned so they can develop fruit buds in the second year

Step 4:

Remove or thin out any spur systems on older trees that have become congested. If your apple tree is a tip or partial tip-bearer cut back a proportion of older fruited branches to a strong younger shoot positioned closer to the main trunk or higher up the branch

Top tips:

  • Always ensure your tools are sharp as blunt tools lead to strains and tatty pruning cuts
  • Only remove the young laterals if they are crossing or the growth is too crowded