Overgrown fruit trees
My fruit trees are overgrown. I have apple and pear trees that still bear fruit, they’re just very small- not much bigger than golfballs. I assume it’s from not getting enough sun? I want to prune them but I’m clueless. Please help!
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi Susan: Fruit trees are long-lived and can produce for many years. Assuming the trees are otherwise healthy and growing in adequate conditions, pruning your overgrown apple and pear trees will help rejuvenate them and increase fruit size. Fruit trees require pruning while they are young to establish a strong framework and a maintain manageable size for harvesting purposes. When trees are not thinned or pruned, it can result in a heavy crop with poor quality fruit. Each tree has a limited amount of resources and removing some of the fruit while it is small, allows the nutrients to be concentrated on fewer fruit, that will result in a higher quality crop. It is stressful when there are not enough nutrients to go around. When this happens year after year, it will weaken the tree. Depending on the number of trees and their overall size, this could be a big job. You might want to consider hiring a certified arborist. Your County Cooperative Extension Office can provide you with local recommendations. It is important to make proper cuts and open up the canopy to allow light and air circulation. The following link is a publication provided to home gardeners by the University of Kentucky in collaboration with other land grant universities on growing fruit in Kentucky detailed information on pruning Fruit Trees in Kentucky.
Kentucky Living-Ask the Gardener