Winter is for Pruning #OrchardLife

MN Apple Orchard Blog

It’s pruning time at Pleasant Valley Orchard! Most days until the middle of April you will see Jim in the orchard, hopefully pruning up a storm. Why do we spend so much time at this each year? In order to grow high quality, nutritious fruit it is important to manage our trees to capture the most sunlight possible. Think of the tree as a collection of solar panels. We want sunlight (energy) to reach all parts of the tree canopy. Well pruned trees capture the most sun energy to produce healthy fruit buds and ripen sweet and nutritious apples. Well pruned trees also allow air movement and rapid drying following rains or morning dew. The result is fewer fungal diseases that can weaken the trees and damage the fruit.
Our yearly goal is to prune each of our nearly 3000 trees so they can be healthy and productive in 2016 and beyond. The last few years have created pruning challenges. Last year’s deep snow and cold stymied our start until March and we worked away through April to get the job done. This year we don’t have that problem. These early warm March days makes it fun to be outside, but too much warmth too fast pushes the trees along and curtails pruning season.
That is why we prune every year. A good pruning program allows you to prune hard on the trees missed last year and lighter on other varieties. Pruning is a critical management tool to ensure there is no loss of fruit quality despite what the weather throws at you!