Winter apple pruning; ‘Click’ pruning

By Terence Bradshaw

Happy 2020, everyone. By now, in mid-January, all growers should be thinking about or well-into dormant pruning apple trees. This is the time to get your tree structure adjusted and to open trees up to sunlight and air to improve overall health and production. Below are some resources that may refresh your minds on the concepts and best practices in dormant pruning apples:

· Pruning -Horticulture Presentation by Dr. M. Elena Garcia

· VIDEO: (University of Massachusetts)

· VIDEO: (University of Massachusetts)

Recently, a new method of pruning that has been popularized in parts of Europe has emerged that aims to increase fruit bud development on trees that produce ‘blind wood’, like Cortland, Northern Spy, Fuji, and pears (especially pears). The Click Pruning technique calls for normal dormant pruning through scaffold management and limb/branch removal. Where it differs from pruning tenets we often promote is that it calls for heading cuts into one-year wood- those vegetative terminal shoots produced last year that have no side buds (yet). The idea is to leave small stubs of one-year wood in places on the tree where we want fruit buds to form. Those spurs, which now are missing their terminal bud which promotes apical dominance and therefore fewer lateral spurs (and thus more blind wood), will see increased growth and ‘breaking’ of lateral and sleeping buds that will form fruit spurs this year (and fruit the following). Here are two videos that illustrate the concept. We’ll be trying it on a number of our trees at the UVM orchard this year.

· “CLICK ” Pruning Apples & Pears – Controlling & Directing Vigor – Avoid “Blind” wood: Growing Fruit

· Understanding the click pruning technique – Video: Good Fruit Grower

Stay warm,


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