General information

Experienced gardeners will tell how to prune old apple trees.


It often happens that older apple trees eventually begin to produce less and less harvest. But, starting with their replacement, you make a big mistake: the risk is great that the young sapling will not take root, you have to wait for a more or less abundant fruiting for a long time, and you can never be sure that it will be for apples. At the same time, a properly conducted rejuvenating pruning of old apple trees can breathe new life into your garden, and you will enjoy wonderful and fragrant fruits for many more years.

How to start pruning old apple

You should always start pruning an old apple tree by carefully examining the tree and issuing the main verdict - save or delete.

Pruning of old apple trees is best done in the fall according to the following scheme:

  1. We start with the fact that we remove dried, damaged and diseased branches. Now, once again carefully inspect the crown and trunk and remove everything that hinders the growth of new shoots (some branches do not grow outwards, but inside the crown, you need to get rid of them).
  2. Autumn pruning is good because at this stage you can clearly see on which old branches the fruits no longer form and, accordingly, that you can safely remove.
  3. Now once again inspect the tree. Determine which of the remaining old branches overlap the growth of young, already formed, and carry out the appropriate cleaning.
  4. Next comes the turn of the crown. The height of the apple tree should be shortened at no more than three and a half meters and thin it in the center so that the young branches have room for active growth and at the same time all the branches that remain on the tree are equally well lit by the sun.
  5. Inspect the young twigs and remove shoots that go after the main branching.
  6. Now it's time to deal with the tops.

Features pruning of apple trees

Regular pruning is necessary for fruit trees at any age, it should begin literally from the next year after planting the seedling. However, the technology of this procedure as they grow older changes in a certain way.

From this point of view, every four to five years, adult apples should be radically rejuvenated. The procedure involves the removal of extra branches from the crown, so that the tree is well lit, and you should be guided by the following principle: with a choice, it is better to leave more young branches than one old one. “Under the knife”, first of all, of course, we let dry, bare and uncomfortable growing (interfering with others) branches. Old branches in the lower part of the apple-tree, which began to sag, we remove to branching, from where the new shoot went from the right angle.

If necessary, this anti-aging pruning can be done in two stages (in the autumn of this and next year): at the first stage we deal only with old branches, at the second stage - with young and tops. In addition to rejuvenating, so-called regulatory pruning of old apple trees is also important, which is carried out both in autumn and spring. This procedure is necessary for trees that are fully formed and have already begun to produce a large number of apples. In order for the tree to cope with the load, and the fruits were beautiful, large and healthy, in the spring you need to thoroughly thin the flowers, leaving as much as the tree is able to “feed”.

Pruning an old running apple tree

But what if the apple tree for many years no one was engaged, and it grows, how can? Here, of course, to work hard.

  • We are preparing for the fact that it will not be possible to manage with a single pruning: you will need to deal with wood constantly, cutting it in spring and autumn. A running apple tree needs both rejuvenating and regulating pruning in order to start forming a sufficient number of fruit-bearing branches,
  • it is better to make the first pruning in early spring, before the start of sap flow, simply by removing dead and damaged branches,

  • regulate the number of flower buds as described above
  • It’s a mistake to try to make a small tree out of a big tree: such a radical intervention can destroy an apple tree, as it becomes less protected before low temperatures and various fungal infections.

Ways to prune old apple trees

There are several ways to rejuvenate pruning of an old apple tree, each has its own pros and cons.

First of all, it is necessary to distinguish two main methods of trimming - shortening (trimming) and thinning (slicing). In the first case, the length of all branches more or less drastically decreases, in the second one branches are removed completely, others are left, as a result, the tree is better lit and ventilated.

First option primitively simple: every two years we cut all branches without exception into a meter or two (depending on the growth of the apple tree). The advantage of this method is that it is suitable for newcomers who do not understand agricultural technology, since there is no need to delve into the formation of a tree and choose which branch to cut and which branch to leave. But there is a serious drawback. The fact is that the fruits on the old apple trees are formed mainly on the tops of the branches, which just go under pruning. And given the possible size of the old tree, the process may take several years, and all this time you will be forced to do without apples, moreover, and after cutting the tree will take more than one year to restore the yield!

Second option - radical: once cut the tree across the crown by one third. The advantage is that the procedure is not delayed for many years, but the minus, as mentioned above, is the high risk of the tree dying from frost or disease. For this reason, many gardeners categorically do not recommend acting in this way.

Third option involves the gradual removal of old branches on which no fruit is formed. We choose such branches in advance and cut one or two this year, a couple more next, and so on. Thus, in a few years we get a rejuvenated and thinned apple tree, without causing much harm to it. Fourth option suitable for those who understand agricultural technology. If your tree has almost stopped its growth, we cut off the skeletal and fruiting branches on the three-, four-year, and in very old apple trees - at the ten-year level. Young branches shortened by half.

We repeat the procedure in the next section only after new fruit-bearing branches are not formed on the trimmed part of the apple tree and they do not start producing a steady harvest. Will have to wait at least four years! At this stage, we limit ourselves to removing the tops that appeared after the initial pruning (branches that grew at the right angle, while leaving), and also slightly shorten the branches on the already cut part of the tree so that it does not grow back. Then, according to the same scheme, we gradually prune the entire apple tree in a circle. At the same time, we rejuvenate the roots in the same area of ​​the tree. To do this, stepping away a couple of meters from the trunk, you need to dig a trench 0.7-0.8 m deep along the entire length of the cut part of the apple tree. All root processes that are bare are cut (for this you can use a saw or a sharp shovel). Then the most powerful "stumps" are recommended to be cleaned with a knife, so they will start up young branches faster. After this, a fertile mixture is laid in the trench.

To prepare it, the same part of the compost or humus mixed with mineral fertilizers and wood ash is added to the soil dug out of the pit. Now on the trimmed part of the tree, young branches will begin to form with a vengeance.

After such pruning, the crop on the unshorn part of the tree increases dramatically, and the apples grow larger and tastier.

Useful tips

When pruning an old apple tree, follow these tips:

  • make sure that the tree can be saved (if necessary, consult with a specialist),
  • if the tree is sick, it has damaged bark, hollows, etc. - it must first be cured and then rejuvenated,
  • as a general rule, pruning should be done when the tree is at rest, but with respect to the apple tree, if we are not talking about cardinal cutting, but only removing the tops, you can pull up to the formation of buds,
  • sick, broken and dried branches can and should be removed immediately, at any time of the season, here delay can only harm the tree, and such branches are completely removed, at the base,
  • first, larger branches are cut, then smaller ones, and, as already mentioned, it is better to leave several young branches than one old branch (the less cuts, the better!)
  • twisted and growing inward branches - under the knife,
  • if possible, it is better not to cut the branches too thick, since the wound opening at the same time is open doors for infection,
  • the cutting places must be properly processed: we clean the cut with a knife and cover it with garden pitch, it can be purchased at any gardening shop or in a specialized department in a supermarket). It is possible to use a mixture of paraffin, ceresin and oil (petrolatum) for cutting sections, but not paint! Spil from thick branches, in addition, before the onset of autumn we wrap a dark film (you can use the trash bag). So it will be easier for the tree to recover,
  • young shoots that appear after pruning should be thinned, leaving those that grow at an angle to the trunk, no more than one per every 0.7 m of area, the rest are removed, allowing them to first grow by about 10 cm.
As you can see, giving a new life to an old apple is not so easy, but still possible. And this task should be undertaken, if only because the growing of a fruit tree from a seedling will definitely take much longer with a completely unpredictable result. So, if it seems to you that your beloved apple tree is too old and doesn’t bear fruit well, most likely, it means that you haven’t been doing it for a long time. It's time to start!

How to prune an old apple tree?

An apple tree will continue fruiting even when it is not looked after or it grows old. But the “effectiveness” of the collection and its volume will fall with each season, and in some years on it no apples at all.

Old age is noticeable and the growth of fingerlings. Kohl growths of the branches are made very weak and small - the tree is aging. And only by cutting off the excess, homeless apple trees can be "restored" and resume fruiting.

More often for such a “restoration” they use the translation method, that is, all skeletal branches are cut to the point where the strongest and youngest shoot is located, usually three years old. At the same time, they do not forget about subordination, where any subsequent tier of branches is cut more than the previous one.

If after this the force of growth of young shoots has not been revived, the pruning of the “aged” apple trees is continued by even greater removal of the oldest branches.

When is it best to prune if the apple tree is old?

Taken for pruning the old apple tree is ideal in the fall. But in the spring pruning of apple trees is possible. In the spring, this procedure is good for cutting out branches that froze in winter and died. In the spring, it is better to act until there are buds on the trees, and sap flow has not started.

The main and main thing in the adult apple pruning system

Gardeners of Europe have formed a system for pruning old apple trees, developed from anti-aging pruning of neglected trees. It is called the update system. This method, which may seem difficult at first glance to an amateur, is in fact, successful way to control the growth and age of fruit wood and the formation of fruit at the most favorable place for them.

This system takes into account only certain characteristics of the tree, and there are no hard and fast rules. And the system itself consists of reducing the proportion of excess annual growth. So, just to leave the necessary part of the branches, and the remaining part will be able to form fruit twigs.

Twigs and fruit carts should be well spaced throughout the length of the branch to ensure that the fruits are not crowded. The number of stepsons is reduced, but their total number will depend on the variety and growth of the apple tree.

A strong tree can “feed” a large number of apples. As a consequence, most of the stepsons that will appear after the anti-aging pruning, should be shortened by 1/3, and their smaller half is cut.

On a weaker tree, which has a tendency to form fruit buds due to the shoots of fingerlings, only 2 of 3 of the stepsons can cut off only the top. And next summer, from these stepchildren, they choose the most fully suitable for the definition of “real branches” and form a new fruit unit.

An ideal fruit tree should have only one central leading branch. Two leaders must not be allowed, otherwise the tree will become weak. It is necessary to determine among the competitors and tops the only strong and strong leader and remove all the rest.

And this central leader should be surrounded by strong branches and evenly distributed fruitful branches on them. Which have a lot of twigs and fruits for fruiting.

Two main rules how to prune an old apple tree

The first rule of pruning is remove all dead, damaged or diseased branches.

Second: trim ring. This is when planning to make a cut, pay attention to the “collar of the branch” (or “ring”), which consists of the “wrinkled” part of the bark at the base of the branch, where its end is connected to the trunk of the tree. This part of the tree has all the cells needed for wound healing.

Important! Never cut in the branch "collar" when pruning! Instead, make a cut just above it.

Pruning of old apple trees in autumn: scheme

If you still do not know how to properly prune an old apple tree in the fall, the diagram below will help you. For effective pruning, you need to follow a program consisting of a specific sequence of actions:

  1. Cut out the oldest branchesthose that for all sorts of reasons turned into broken or damaged,
  2. Then, where a large number of small branches grow, crown should be thinned retaining the strongest and smoothest, painful and twisted twigs to cut,
  3. After pruned those branches that leave the trunk at a low angle, because with abundant fruiting, such branches can break under the weight of ripe apples,
  4. Remove all rubbing and tangled branches and remove all hemp "ring"
  5. After that, all sections of the branches of the branches must be carefully cleaned of scoring and irregularities, otherwise the original matinees can injure bast. Then apply “garden var” to the treatment of wounds, it is allowed to seal the wounds with oil paint or natural drying oil,
  6. At the end of the work, all the branches that were cut should be folded in one place and burned to ashes; this is necessary to destroy possible insects of pests and rot that could appear on weak and stunted twigs.

Remember that pruning an old apple in the fall is pledge of good urazhaya next year. Also do not forget that in case of ripening of a large number of apples, the branches should be protected from damage due to the severity of the crop with the help of supports.

Pruning an old apple tree in spring: diagram and video

Early spring pruning is advised before the buds swell.
Vertical pruning not only saves the area of ​​the cut from freezing, but also because of the rapid start of sap flow in the spring, the wound area dries out faster.

The cut areas are immediately processed. garden pitchas in the autumn time.
It is advisable to cut the shoots above the kidneys so that from one part the cutting edge is at the level of the upper part of the kidney, and at the opposite part it has a bevel for rolling water.

Do not forget about the "creation" of the crown. In it, the middle and lower branches should be longer than the upper ones, and the top should be higher than the crown.
In the spring continue to form the crown, incidentally removing all frozen and frozen shoots.

Pruning length should depend on the strength of the growth of the apple:

  • for undersized and dwarf apple trees, only the tops of the left shoots are removed,
  • in middle-growth trees, shoots are cut by 1/3,
  • and the branches of tall and seed apple trees are cut by about half or more.

Details of apple pruning in spring, see the video: