What Happens When You Prune a Fruit Tree That Is Bearing Fruit?

Jan - 20

What Happens When You Prune a Fruit Tree That Is Bearing Fruit?

When a tree is bearing fruit, then your instinct might be that pruning is harmful. In the right conditions, however, pruning in the middle of fruit-bearing is the right decision to make. Knowing what happens when you prune a fruit tree is critical to knowing whether you’re helping or damaging your tree.

Restoring from Neglect

A fruit tree that has been neglected requires pruning. Otherwise, its branches are not shaped for healthier growth or effortless picking. Neglected trees need one of three basic pruning choices: dump the branches to allow better air circulation and sun, pruning back to decrease height and competitive pruning to remove all but the main branches. If you’re pruning simply to enhance air circulation, remove dead and diseased branches first. These branches are unlikely to have fruit that’s healthful, so they are not just easy to identify in summertime, but their elimination also considerably improves the health of the tree using minimal potential harm when removed during growth season. The consequence of their elimination is fitter airflow and thus, much healthier fruit. If you’re trying to decrease height, do so over a period of 3 years to avoid too much pruning in 1 season. This type of pruning can be done during early spring to minimize potential problems with the cut regions of the tree. Aggressive pruning can be done when the tree is bearing fruit, but might not be effective in most species if finished in 1 season. Stone fruits which are more mature, like peaches, nectarines and cherries, might not develop buds through the thicker bark over the lower part of this tree. In this case, replacing is a better choice than pruning during the growing season.


If a tree was neglected or badly pruned in the previous season, it places out more fruit than it can support, and that means you must thin the fruit to avoid broken branches and encourage healthy growth of the remaining fruit. Some species drop their fruit to naturally thin out the harvest, like citrus, figs and cherries. For those fruit trees which do not, like persimmons, all stone fruits along with all Asian pear species, thin rear the harvest once the fruit is small. Thinning in this situation means to get rid of overabundant fruit, and that means you prune just the fruit and its own stem from the branch. It does not mean to cut the branches back back to where they originate as you do when training a young fruit tree.


If you prune fruit, then timing is critical. If you do it too late, the remaining fruit might not benefit enough, staying little. If you thin too early, the stone fruits might split their pits, defeating the intent of thinning out the harvest. The University of California School of Agriculture and Natural Resources suggests thinning when fruit is less than an inch in diameter, typically in April to early May. This reduces the potential for limb damage and makes sure that the remaining fruit grows larger.


Pruning whilst fruit is about the branch opens the fruit into several potentially harmful conditions. It eliminates leaves, which aids the fruit tree create its harvest, slows the ripening of the fruit and exposes the tree into the potential of sunburn. Whitewash the newly exposed limbs, or even utilize a mix of equal parts white latex paint and water to protect against sunburn. An open ended is appealing to insects and fungal spores, so prune if the weather is warm. Prune large limbs in the first weeks of April, recommends the University of California. This timing allows open wounds to heal quickly, which reduces the potential for wounds to decay or decay. They also recommend against using sealants to seal cuts created when pruning. Rather, leave the cuts open to the air to dry naturally.

See related