What is the best way of pruning apricot trees?


Quick Answer

Unlike most fruit trees, which are pruned when dormant in the winter, apricot trees grow best when trimmed in the summer. Apricots are prone to waterborne diseases that can enter pruning cuts during rainy weather. Proper pruning of an apricot tree from year to year ensures that it bears an optimal amount of fruit and remains healthy.

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Full Answer

Apricot trees flourish with a modified central leader pruning shape. The modified central leader shape retains a vertical central trunk with horizontal branches growing from it. Branches at the first level begin 18 to 24 inches above the ground and are evenly spaced around the trunk at approximately 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock. These branches are called scaffold branches. For optimal strength, the scaffold branches must have a 45- to 60-degree angle from the trunk. If the angle of the branches is too close, a clothespin or wooden spacer can bring the angle down.

Once all the scaffold branches are identified, all of the other branches are headed using a cut about 6 inches out, incorporating a bud. The central leader is cut off 20 inches above the highest scaffold branch. Most of the pruning occurs at the top of the tree so that sunlight can penetrate all of the branches. Scaffold branches can be kept every 8 to 10 inches on the trunk. The same pruning principals apply whether pruning a young tree or an older tree. Each year, about 20 percent of the apricot tree's new growth must be removed.

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