Pruning apple trees in autumn: tips for gardeners

Pruning an apple tree is an important agro-technical event, the main element of caring for the fruit tree. It is carried out at all stages of the plant development and has different goals – crown formation, rejuvenation, maintenance of healthy phytosanitary condition. Depending on the purpose of the agro-technical measure, the timing of. All types of pruning are carried out in the spring, and in the fall focus on rejuvenation and treatment, although formative pruning is also acceptable.

Apple trees pruning in autumn

When to prune apple trees in autumn

The timing is influenced by agroclimatic conditions in the growing region, including the current season’s weather conditions. But in our opinion, there are several criteria that indicate the right time for pruning:

  1. The leaves have fallen off and all trash has been removed;

  2. trees are fed, watered, and the root zone is mulched;

  3. Dry, cool weather has been established;

  4. The mercury dips below 0°C only occasionally.

In the middle belt such weather is in mid-autumn. In southern areas the sap runs longer in fruit trees. Trees are trimmed here from mid-November to early December.

Pruning methods

Autumn pruning comes in 3 types. The criterion for determining the age of the apple tree.

Types by degree of intensity


Tree age




Prune the current growth to stimulate branching and form a proper, neat crown


At the age of 5-7 years

Strong branches are pruned by 30% of the length to increase the number of fruit-bearing shoots and increase the yield



The branches are pruned by 50% to thin the thickened crown and provide sun access to ripe fruits

For your information!

Sanitary pruning is a separate kind of agrotechnical procedure. Apple trees at any age need it if they have been damaged by disease.

What will be needed for the agronomic measure

Before you start, prepare the right equipment. To carry out the procedure will be required:

  1. Pruning shears. It is used to remove shoots with a diameter of 2.5 cm.

  2. Pruning lopper. Suitable for shortening branches up to 5 cm in diameter and those that are high.

  3. Hacksaw. With it, the skeletal branches and the central conductor are trimmed. More than 5 cm in diameter.

The tool is pre-sharpened very sharp, which will allow you to make even cuts that quickly heal. To avoid infection, the tools are decontaminated. Disinfect the tool each time you move on to the next plant. In addition to hacksaws, pruning shears, a disinfectant for saws/cuts will be needed. 3% copper sulfate solution, garden brew are suitable.

How to prune apple trees of different age and forms: rules, schemes

How to prune apple trees of different ages and shapes

Pruning is an effective tool in the technology of fruit-cultivation. It helps to maintain optimal crown parameters and high physiological activity of the tree. The level of productivity potential of the apple orchard is also directly dependent on the procedure. Regular and competent pruning ensures the possibility of its full use, to achieve annual stable fruiting, improve the commercial quality of fruits and maintain the trees’ high environmental sustainability. However, carrying out competent pruning, in our opinion, is impossible without knowledge of the biology of the plant. Every year it develops, which makes it necessary to adjust the scheme of work.

Young plants

Trim right away in the year of planting. When planting annual planting material it can have only a few weakly developed branches or be without them at all. In the latter case an apple tree is pruned to a height of 0,8-1 m. If there are shoots, shorten the central bush. And the branches that are on the boles (an area up to 0.7 m in height) are cut out. Also cut away any higher branches if they tend to grow at an acute angle to the trunk. Branches should be pruned at a right angle, leaving 3-5 buds.

The next autumn form the skeleton, leaving 3-5 strongest and properly growing branches. Tiering is achieved by shortening the lower branches to a length of 40 cm and the upper ones to a length of 20 cm. Tieredness is, in our opinion, a manifestation of growth polarity in an apple tree with good shoot-forming ability. At this time, the central conductor is pruned so that it is only 20 cm above the top tier. Make sure that the branch is kept alone. If the second begins to develop, it is immediately removed.

In the 3-5th year of growth formation pruning replaces thinning pruning. After the fall of leaves, cut out wolfs, injured shoots and those that thicken the crown or grow in the wrong direction. If the branches develop evenly, they are not pruned. Only shoots knocked out of the crown should be pruned.


If apple trees are old, they are rejuvenated. However, an old neglected plant cannot be completely renewed in just one season. If you carry out intensive pruning, removing all unnecessary shoots, shortening individual branches at a time, the tree will die. In order not to traumatize the apple tree it will take 2-3 seasons. Rejuvenate only strong, healthy plants. If the place of cutting (scaffold branches, trunk) shows the signs of fungus, viral diseases or bark beetle damage, uproot without regret.

Before you begin rejuvenating an old apple orchard, in our opinion,should be conditionally divided into 3 stages of pruning:

  1. Dry and broken branches should be cut off, lichen and moss should be removed from the trunk.

  2. Proceed to thin the crown: remove spikes (leaving no more than 10), growing deep or interfering with each other. To get even light to the shoots, shorten the central conductor to a height of 3.5 m.

  3. Tidy up the crown. In the tier, leave 3-4 strong, healthy shoots growing at right angles. Cut all branches 60 cm higher, then make another tier. The maximum number of branches in the top is 3.

In untreated cases, the work is reduced to standard procedures. First remove spikes, trim the diseased and injured branches, prune the annual growth by 50% of the length.


In autumn, dwarfs are pruned for sanitary purposes, as well as to reduce the density of the crown. After the fall of leaves and in anticipation of cold weather:

  1. Remove damaged branches, cracked under the weight of the crop or with signs of disease. They are non-viable – they will have to be removed after winter anyway.

  2. Cut all vertical branches, the ones that grow deep inside, interfering with natural ventilation.

  3. Cut one-year growth if it develops at an acute angle. The weight of the snow will become critical for the shoots. As they break, they can damage other branches.

  4. Disinfect the cuts with a 3% solution of copper sulfate and cover with garden varnish.

  5. To avoid pockets of infection, rake up all plant debris. They are removed from the garden and burned.


The type of apple trees is designed for intensive technology of cultivation. The last includes 4 pruning – one per season. The main work is done in late winter. In autumn pruning is curative: it aims at maintaining a good phytosanitary condition. At this time, remove shoots damaged by pests, broken, growing in the wrong direction or tangled.

Apple-tree is an unpretentious crop, growing in most homestead and dacha plots. But to remove a rich harvest, it is not enough only to feed and water the tree. Proper pruning plays a major role in ensuring a stable yield.

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