Pruning vs. Thinning

tree trimming
Pruning vs. Thinning


Many of us have heard the terms, pruning and training and wonder what the heck is the difference. Well, historically fruit tree form and structure have been maintained by pruning. As we grew wiser in our knowledge of Mother Nature’s quirks, it was discovered that tree training is a more efficient and desirable way to develop tree form and structure.

 By definition pruning is the removal of a portion of a tree to correct or maintain its structure. However, training, a relatively new discipline, directs tree growth into a desired shape and form. Training young fruit trees is essential for its proper development. By far, this is a better method to correct a tree’s structure.

 Pruning is done during the winter, commonly known as dormant pruning. Training is done in the summer in coHampton Roadsunction with pruning as well as dormant pruning. Tree training’s goal is to direct tree growth and reduce the necessity of cutting.

 At this point you are asking yourself when do I prune, during dormant season or summer season

 I would like to state that trees respond differently to dormant and summer pruning. The former is an invigorating process. In the fall, energy is stored primarily in the trunk and root system to support the top portion of the tree. Therefore, if a large portion of the tree is removed during the dormant season, the tree’s energy reserve is unchanged. The tree, in spring, will respond by producing many new vigorous upright shoots called water sprouts. This sprouts shade the tree and inhibit proper development. Heavy dormant pruning also promotes excessive vegetative vigor, using much of the tree’s energy. This process leaves little for fruit growth and development.

 Dormant pruning time is critical. It should begin as late in the winter as possible to avoid winter iHampton Roadsury. Apple and pecan trees should be pruned first,,then cherry, peach and plum trees. A rule of thumb is to prune the latest blooming trees first and earliest blooming last. Another factor to consider is the tree’s age in that the oldest tree should be pruned first because younger trees are more prone to winter iHampton Roadsury

 Summer pruning reduces an energy or food producing portion of the tree and results in reduced tree growth. As soon as the tree buds start to grow, summer pruning can begin. Rule of thumb, pruning is generally started after the vegetative growth is several inches long. In practicum summer pruning should be limited to removing the upright and vigorous current season’s growth. Only thinning cuts should be used. Summer pruning should not be done after the end of July; thereby, reducing the potential for winter iHampton Roadsury.

 Below is a brief summation of the types of pruning cuts.

 Thinning cut – removal of an entire shoot back to a side shoot.

Heading cut – removes only the terminal portion of a shoot.

Bench cut – removes vigorous, upright shoots back to side branches that are relatively flat and outward growing. Bench cuts are used to open up the center of a tree. Note: this is major cut and should only be used when necessary.

 When making pruning cuts we want to ensure that the cut surface will heal quickly. This minimizes the occurrence of disease and/or insect infection. The cut should be made flush with the adjacent branch without leaving a stub and making sure not to iHampton Roadsury the bark of the adjacent branch. If the particular cut would be a large horizontal cut, it should be slightly angled to prevent water from sitting on the surface promoting rot and disease organisms.

 There are numerous commercial compounds available as wound dressing or pruning paints; however, they are mainly used for aesthetic reasons and do not really promote healing.. Therefore, the best treatment is to make a proper cut and let Mother Nature do what she does best, heal.


The most FAQ is, ‘To what shape should I train my fruit tree’.

 There is no one answer. One can choose from many different training shapes and forms with multiple variations on each form.

 Whatever systems is chosen, keep in mind that the objectives of training and pruning are to achieve maximum tree life and productivity.

 In future articles, I shall cover topics such as Central Leader Training and Open Center or Vase Training

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