Winter Essentials: Tree Pruning
Our orchard team has been taking every opportunity possible to get out into the fields to prune trees. Each year we strive to prune our orchard before the spring thaw so they are in the best shape possible to continue growing the moment the sun wakes them from their winter slumber.
Pruning is essential to maintaining an even distribution of light throughout the tree canopy. It also helps promotes air flow throughout the tree canopy that allows crop protectants to reach the apples. In our high-density blocks, this is done by removing larger branches so that there is a thin spindle canopy remaining where smaller side branches grow from a single verticle trunk and are spaced out at an appropriate density–not too close together, but not sparse.
Our orchard crew assesses several characteristics of the tree when deciding which branches to remove. They look at branch size, branch density (or the number of branches per meter of the trunk), branch angle, and secondary branch complexity (which are the offshoots that originate from the main limb).
Once they evaluate the tree they begin cutting away the branches that are set at an angle greater than 140 degrees off verticle, which are too weak and pendant to hold fruit as well as branches less than 40 degrees off verticle, which are too strong. The goal is to maintain horizontal branches that will possess a better balance between growth and fruitfulness which results in a bountiful harvest in the fall.