When is the best time to trim apple trees in my area? Also, how far back do I need to trim Triple Crown blackberries?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Melvin in Kentucky: Apple trees are a great addition to the home orchard. Healthy, well-pruned trees produce high yields but are not maintenance-free plantings. March is the best time to prune your apple trees in Kentucky. Pruning begins at the time of planting and continues each year to promote ideal branching structure for fruit production and harvest purposes. Ideally, a mature apple tree should have a central leader, with four to five lateral branches evenly spread throughout the tree. The central leader can be pruned back at a young age to help maintain the overall size of the tree. This helps when it comes to harvest time. All dead, diseased, and broken branches can be removed any time of the year. Pruning older neglected apple trees will require consecutive years of removing larger branches to get it back into shape and make them more productive. If you need more detailed information on pruning your apple trees, you can visit http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/HG_363.pdf
. This publication is from the University of Utah but it has nice detailed pictures on properly pruning apple trees. As for your blackberries, each plant should be pruned annually for best fruit production. As Kentucky gardeners, we typically grow two kinds of blackberries: semi-erect and semi-trailing. ‘Triple Crown’ is a trailing variety that can be trellised to grow upright, but should be pruned in the early spring. When this time comes, you will want to study each plant and pick out two or three of the most vigorous canes and remove the rest at ground level. For more detailed information on growing blackberries in Kentucky, you can read the following publication provided by the University of Kentucky in collaboration with the Extension service: www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho15/ho15.pdf. Enjoy your fruit!