A Reason to Prune Apple Trees

I learned how to Prune apple trees when I was 19.

At that time, I felt as if I had discovered the meaning in life and set out to figure a way to earn a living pruning – and that was essentially the cidery, a good idea for a reason to grow apples so I could prune them.

Pruning requires intense focus.

You can’t prune fast while you thinking about your bills or your grocery list.

Hundreds of flowers and thousands of leaves and an infinite number of arrangements. Time falls away and it’s just you and the tree.

Pruning also requires time. You need to do it for more than a year, more than two years. You need to prune a tree and then harvest it’s fruit and prune it again.

In this way, you learn to see the effects of the choices you are making. This is how you learn to think in tree.

This is how I have a relationship with the trees.

Pruning is really about a few basic ideas.

The first is structure. We have center leader trees, so I’m making cuts to preserve the structure. The structure is designed around maximum light penetration for the size of the tree, so I’m keeping as much of the tree exposed to the light and cutting away the shading parts.

The second is about balance blossoms versus leaves, photosynthesis versus fruitfulness. What was last year’s crop? What do we anticipate this year’s crop to be? And while I’m out here, I’ll cut out any canker or blight that I see and that’s pretty much it.

Structure, light, balance, and then on to the next tree.