Spring Tree Fruit Tips
Posted: March 24, 2014
- You also want to remove those suckers that are growing straight up. Prune them off as close to the limb as possible. Next, ensure there is separation between limbs so light and air can penetrate into the tree. I like to prune my trees so there are distinct layers with about 2.5 feet between the layers. Make sure the top of the tree is not overshadowing the rest of the tree. You can accomplish this by removing any large branches that are dominating the top of the tree. When light reaches the lower branches they will become more fruitful.
- When you are done you want a tree that is open and balanced. Prune your cherry and plum trees after the apple and pear trees (late March). Peach trees should not be pruned until after you see signs of new growth in the spring. That normally happens around mid-April in our area.
- If you are purchasing fruit trees for the first time this spring, it is a good idea to choose a dwarf tree. They will stay at a height that you will be able to manage. Dwarf trees will need to be supported. A wooded or metal fence post works well. Dwarf trees produce fruit sooner than larger trees.
- You will need at least two varieties of apples or pears to ensure pollination. European pears and Asian pears will not pollenate each other. There are some varieties of cherry that are self-fruitful and some that need a different variety of cherry to pollinate them. Peaches are self-fruitful.
- All fruit trees benefit from a dormant oil spray. It is a non-toxic oil that is sprayed on the bark just before the buds open in the spring. The oil covers aphids and mites, including mite eggs, and kills them before they can damage the tree.
- Apple trees can be sprayed with a fungicide like sulfur to prevent apple scab before the flowers open. Do not use any insecticide during bloom so that pollinators are not harmed.
- Keep the lawn around your fruit trees mowed to prevent the flowering of dandelion.
- Finally, take time to enjoy the beauty of your fruit trees in bloom. They really are spectacular.
John Esslinger, Extension Educator
Penn State Cooperative Extension