Apple and Peach Tree Pruning

Jon Clements demonstrated apple tree pruning

Jon Clements demonstrated apple tree pruning

“Forks belong on your dinner table, not in your orchard,” said Jon Clements, UMass Extension Educator. He shared his witty rules for pruning fruit trees, especially apples and peaches at his fruit tree pruning demonstration for about 40 fruit tree growers at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI.
For a Central Leader style orchard,“select trees with 4 to 5 branches or ‘feathers’ fairly high up the tree,” said Clements. For hi-density plantings on dwarf rootstocks, a sturdy trellis system with four wires will support the trees during their productive years. The Tall Spindle style orchard uses trees planted 3’ apart with 10’ to 12’ between rows. To secure branches to wires, use u-hooks like those from OESCO ( or Peach Ridge Orchard Supply ( Using rubber bands or wires, tie young branches aiming slightly down to limit their vigor.

Clements said apple trees fruit on 2-year-old and older wood. He likes to prune apple trees each winter after January first, in complete dormancy. Clements said, “Growers don’t have to sanitize tools in the winter. If Fire Blight is present in the orchard during the growing season, then be sure to sanitize tools between cuts when pruning.” Clements recommended starting with the largest trees. Clements offer specific recommendations for pruning apple trees using the Central Leader style. Learn more here.


About Sanne Kure-Jensen

Sanne Kure-Jensen is a frequent contributor to Country Folks, Country Folks Grower and Wine & Grape Grower bringing regional and national attention to agriculture in RI and across southern New England. She has also written for newsletters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), Holistic Management International (HMI), RI Beekeepers Association and RI Tree Council. Read Sanne’s work at her Sustainable Living page at Sanne has written successful grant applications for alternative energy projects, staff and board training, products and services. Clients include agricultural businesses, farm stand/markets and non-profit organizations. Recent successful grant projects include a $90,000 USDA Rural Development‘s Rural Energy For America Program (REAP), $10,000 Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Farmer and $20,000 Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG). Sanne is the part-time Administrator for NOFA/RI, a Rhode Island Certified Horticulturist and beekeeper. She is a NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional and has lectured across southern New England on Beekeeping, Native Pollinators and Ecological Landscape Design. Learn more about the NOFA’s Land Care programs or contact Sanne for a garden consultation through the NOFA/RI website.
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