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Old 08-31-2009, 10:17 AM   #1
VladtheImpaler
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Default Pruning Trees - Best Done When?

I have a couple apple trees I need to prune. Should this be done in late fall or early spring? Also, any other tips or cautions would be much appreciated...
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:34 AM   #2
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Late winter / early spring is best; you can get away with doing it any time it's dormant, but ideally you want to do it about a month before they'll actually start to bud out, I think.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:38 AM   #3
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I like doing it in the fall after the leaves have dropped and when the sap is falling. During the winter is good too, but I try to avoid doing it in the spring when the sap is rising as that causes them to "bleed" more. That's only for major pruning though. Minor pruning to get rid of suckers or new limbs to shape the tree can be done at any time really.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:40 AM   #4
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Isn't it any month that ends in 'r'?
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:41 AM   #5
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Last Wed. I pruned my 2 hawthorn trees, they're about 50 years old.

Then on Sunday I was listening to am 770, and they said never prune trees when they have leaves on them.....Great!!!
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Isn't it any month that ends in 'r'?
That's a workable rule of thumb, but I don't think September is optimal. And if you don't mind freezing your knackers off, January and February are okay.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:51 AM   #7
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I'm going to go ahead and say never. Let the laziness prevail!
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Old 08-31-2009, 11:14 AM   #8
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This is a great thread. My wife was telling me to prune a couple of our trees yesterday. I told her that I didn't think it was the best time (she suspected laziness). I meant to do some Googling but this thread might just provide the answers I was looking for. CP rocks!

My gut was that I should wait until fall/dormancy.
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Old 08-31-2009, 11:18 AM   #9
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All joking aside, I have had the best experience pruning trees in February/early March. If you can find a relatively warm weekend and there isn't too much snow on the ground, you can get two birds stoned at once and take down your Christmas lights and prune your trees at the same time.
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Old 08-31-2009, 11:21 AM   #10
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Dead stuff: anytime.

You shouldn't cut green wood unless absolutely necessary, as it opens up a wound that can lead to infection.
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Old 08-31-2009, 11:45 AM   #11
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The government's Department of Agriculture puts out a booklet that can be had for $3.

http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$departm...sf/all/agdex22



Quote:
Table of contents
  • Pruning Tools
  • Plant Terms to Know
  • Basic Principles of Pruning
  • Pruning Techniques
  • Pruning Deciduous Ornamental Trees
  • Deciduous Tree recommendations
  • Pruning Evergreen Tress
  • Pruning Shrubs
  • Shrub Recommendations
  • Pruning Roses
  • Pruning Tree Fruit
  • Pruning Bush Fruit
  • Conclusion
  • Further Sources of Pruning Information
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Old 08-31-2009, 02:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shazam View Post

You shouldn't cut green wood unless absolutely necessary, as it opens up a wound that can lead to infection.
Just scrub the wound with a bit of household strength Lysol straight after cutting. Never use pruning paint as this can seal in bacteria. The tree is living and heal the same as we can.
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Old 08-31-2009, 02:31 PM   #13
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I assume all this good advice (prune when the sap isn't flowing anymore) doesn't hold if you are pruning dead or almost dead limbs from a tree?

edit: nm.... I see Shazam answered my question
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Old 08-31-2009, 02:55 PM   #14
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Some trees don't apply to the "Monthe ending in 'r' " rule. I have a white birch and it should be done in July. One spring I decided to prune mine and I got one branch cut and it started bleeding sap like a waterfall. My neighbour, who used to have a white birch, saw me and came rushing out to tell me that I'll just kill my tree. They were told that the middle of July is best, as spring and fall is when this trees sap really flows.

It doesn't make too much sense to me, but they are the ultimate green thumb peeps, with a perfectly kept yard, so I decided not to temp fate, and only prune my white birch in July.
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Old 08-31-2009, 03:23 PM   #15
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Google "branch collar" and try to find a picture of a tree close to your trees species. If you make your cuts to the base of the branch collar and are careful not to cut into the collar the tree will heal quickly. If we aren't talking about fruit trees three main cuts should be 90% of the work. Think big. Decide before you start if you are wanting an umbrella shape to your finished product or a cone shape. The rule of thumb is you can remove up to one third of the tree safely.
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Old 08-31-2009, 04:04 PM   #16
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What is the benefit to pruning? I have a choke cherry tree in my front yard that is demonstrating fantastic growth year over year - I kinda like it looking big brash and bushy...

So does pruning do anything to improve the health of the tree? Can I just let it grow unchecked?
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Old 08-31-2009, 04:04 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzles View Post
Just scrub the wound with a bit of household strength Lysol straight after cutting. Never use pruning paint as this can seal in bacteria. The tree is living and heal the same as we can.
These solutions have been shown to be ineffective. Just wait till your tree hardens up the new wood. No need to be impatient.
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:36 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sclitheroe View Post
What is the benefit to pruning? I have a choke cherry tree in my front yard that is demonstrating fantastic growth year over year - I kinda like it looking big brash and bushy...

So does pruning do anything to improve the health of the tree? Can I just let it grow unchecked?
Pruning dead wood helps keep trees healthy. Beyond that pruning is all about shaping the tree. You can inspire new growth or slow the growth of your tree depending on how and when you prune. You can also control the direction of new growth to fill in holes or prune to avoid the tree growing into an areas you want open. If your tree has the room to grow and you like its look then leave it alone. The truth is any time you prune a tree you are cutting it. Also, trees unlike humans don't heal when wounded. They just try to compartmentalize the wound and grow around it.
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Old 08-31-2009, 09:55 PM   #19
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Some trees should be pruned for their own good. As in certain apple and fruit trees. Many have quite a horizontal growth pattern. Add on a full load of fruit and the branches start to bend and be prone to breaking. And with the spring snow storms we get, those type of trees are more prone to breaking with the extra weight of the snow.

I have one crab/apple cross with this type of growth pattern, and I prune it quite regularily, in the fall when dormant. On the other hand, I also have a Dolgo crabapple with more of an upward growth and I don't need to prune it quite as severely.

Of course, if I dont pick the fruit in time, Mr. Bear comes along and prunes the fruit trees for me. He has proven to be a terrible horticulturalist.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:03 PM   #20
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Okay Johnny Greenthumbs.

We have 5 columnar aspens in our backyard. They are in a west to east line. The Western most one is about 30% smaller than the others. They were all bought and planted the summer of 2007. The westerly one has recently drawn the attention of wasps. I am thinking of getting a firepit and swingset. Seriously, there was about 50 wasps crawling all over it but not on the others. Any thoughts?
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