Report: Fruit Pruning Workshop 12.02.17 Richard Read
Date posted: Friday 10th March 2017
Richard began by saying that allotments were prone to the spread of viruses and aphids, like catching a cold! He recommends always acquiring clean plants, fruit trees and bushes from accredited nurseries and plant suppliers to avoid infection. Viruses weaken plants – eg if yellow spots occur on raspberries dig out and replace, looking for good varieties for early, mid or late cropping such as ‘Joan J’.
Commercially grown apple and pear trees are generally no higher than 10’. With old trees cut out only to create an open shape, allowing maximum light and air to circulate. For all fruit trees, cut to just behind an outward facing bud and remove old fruit. After pruning, feed with a good fertiliser such as ‘Growmore’ and apply manure in the spring. On young trees reduce the laterals by two thirds to create a more open shape, and this will help develop more fruit bearing spurs in the following years. A severe prune will encourage fruit buds; trees tend to vigorous upward growth so the aim is to restrain.
Plum, cherry and stone fruit trees are pruned in the summer after flowering, to avoid silver leaf infection. Richard demonstrated bending young whippy branches round and tying in, to encourage fruiting and lateral growth; this can be done up to April. Cherry trees can be trained out by taking out an upward branch with strong growth, not the main leader.
Plum bend 1
Plum bend 2
Blackcurrants fruit better on young wood. Make sure to remove any big buds, caused by an aphid. The aim is to create a good, open space for air to circulate – the bowl shape. Feed, as for all fruit after pruning, with a strong feeder to approx. 2oz per sq yd and mulch. Over grown gooseberry bushes can be open out – there are no hard and fast rules, apart from allowing extra air in and around and feeding! Pruning acid loving blueberries is similar to rose pruning, trying to create growth in younger shoots, removing crossing, dying or dead and diseased stems. Tidy generally and leave after giving the bush a good feed with a sequestration plant food.
Many thanks to Richard for sharing his skills and expertise with us – it was a very informative and useful pruning workshop, followed by requests for another session in the summer over welcome hot drinks and cake in the café afterwards.