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Apple Tree Pruning

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by edcolo, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. edcolo

    edcolo LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    I am just trying to find the production rate for pruning apple trees (20'-25'). I have never done it before; therefore, I have no information to put the estimate together. An average of hours per tree will be helpful.


  2. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,697

    Hard to say without looking at them. Have these trees been maintained in the past or overgrown? Pruning apple trees isn't the same as pruning ornamental trees. It takes some knowledge of knowing what is bearing wood and what isn't. Also, it's getting kind of late in the season to be pruning out apple trees. They should be done while they are dormant.
  3. edcolo

    edcolo LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    They ave been neglected for 3-4 years. Originally thery were part of a orchard which was sub-divided into 6 acres lots. I understand I am getting out of the time range to prune them. It is why we need to get to them next week. There are 4 different varieties among them Red Delicious and Machitosh. Once again they are between 20'-25' height.
  4. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,697

    It's hard to say, but it sounds like around 2 - 3 hrs each with cleanup.
  5. Kate Butler

    Kate Butler LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 640

    I'm told that there's research over the past few years indicating that apple trees can be pruned until the end of July and that summer-pruned trees throw fewer water sprouts and make more fruit spurs than winter pruned trees. My experiences tend to bear this out. I've been summer pruning for 3 seasons now and have better yields on all the trees. Some of the trees are very old and have been rejuvenation-pruned over 3 or 4 years. Other trees are younger and are routinely pruned every other year, with water sprout removal every year.
  6. edcolo

    edcolo LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    Thanks kate for your input!

    An average how long does it take to prune a tree?
    How many labor hours/how many people per tree?

  7. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,697

    Kate, I would agree that you can prune apple trees at any time, but it will be at the expense of bearing fruit. Water spout can be removed at anytime of the year without affecting apple production. If you remove any of the wood that produced blooms in the spring, you are going to reduce your apple yield. However, selective pruning of trees after bloom will produce apples that are larger in size. Please point me to the research that you were talking about. Thanks!
  8. Kate Butler

    Kate Butler LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 640

    Ed, it's really hard to guess-timate (without seeing the trees) how long it will take to prune 'em. One consideration is: will you have to climb to prune or can it all be done from the ground? A telescoping chainsaw or good pole saw (with lopper) can make a huge difference in the time factor - a chainsaw is LOTS faster on big wood, but not as good on smaller diameter stuff (tends to tear the wood). I use both when pruning apples. Still, with larger trees, you may need to climb. I like a 2 person crew: one to drop the wood, and another to remove it. The larger the tree, the bigger the 'trip and fall factor' if the debris isn't removed as you work.

    Mike, I wish I could cite the acutal reserach: it's just the buzz from a number of apple specialists up here. We do often have to thin fruits for a (physically) larger apple. Intuitively, summer pruning makes sense for that reason. I think that fewer water sprouts as a result of summer pruning is just a bonus.
  9. WhohasHelios?

    WhohasHelios? LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    I have kind of changed my pruning style for apples this last year...I will try to find some of the literature that made me switch.

    We have been making some initial cuts late winter, early spring and then going back again in July-August to trim them back again.

    This results in a less severely pruned tree at one time and really seems to be working well for us so far.

    I am not alone on this method so I will try to find some of the supporting info and post again in a day or two.

  10. Apples

    Apples LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 268

    Ed, I trimmed and cleaned up a big old Mac tree for a customer last year,it took me nearly 2 hours. The worst part of the job ,was cleaning up the brush.What is your plan for the brush? You can trim these old trees almost any time of the year. The main reason for winter pruning,is because it is the slowest time of the year. Summer pruning will reduce the number of water sprouts,but you run the risk of bruising,or burning the fruit.Does the owner want you to reduce the height of the trees? Be careful if you are going to take a chainsaw on a ladder, or climb a tree with one. We usually trim our trees every winter,we should finnish our trimming next week. Good luck!

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