Why do we prune?
Pruning your fruit trees and bushes is a great way to encourage new and healthy growth. It will encourage them to produce more fruit in their next season.
How to prune...
Apples and Pears
When pruning apple Malus or pear Pyrus trees it is best to do so when they're dormant (November to March).
Firstly, you'll always want to start off by removing the dead, damaged and diseased branches. You will want to remove any crossing branches as these can cause more damage to other branches in the future.
Next, shorten branches from the previous years growth, cutting them to 1/3 of their length. Make sure to cut them above a bud, facing in the correct direction; do not cut your branches all facing inwards as they will end up crossing over and looking untidy as well as making it difficult for new growth to be produced.
Unlike a lot of fruit trees, stone fruit trees are better pruned during the summer. It is believed the warmer and drier weather helps them to heal quicker and make it less likely for fungal or bacterial infections to infect your trees.
Pruning should be done as soon as the fruit has been harvested.
As usual, start by removing the dead, damaged and diseased branches as well as any that are crossing over.
Apricots Prunus armeniaca should be pruned soon after you have planted them to help encourage new, stronger growth and help with strength in their structure. When shortening a branch you should cut back to a bud or side branch to prevent any disease or fungal infections being caused. Remove any branches that are narrow or growing in an upwards direction, as it is best to train your tree to grow outwards.
Remove any branches that are close to the ground (45 cm or below) or touching the ground. You will also want to make sure that there is plenty of space between each branch so that when fruiting, the Apricots have plenty of space to grow.
Peaches and Nectarines
With peaches and nectarines the fruit grows on branches which have plenty of sunlight, so you need to be sure to keep plenty of space between each main branch.
Cut any branches that are below 45 cm from the ground. Main stems should be cut back to 2-3 buds to help new growth to come back stronger.
The best time to prune plum Prunus domestica trees are in the spring. You should avoid pruning in winter as this increases the risk of infection from Silver Leaf Disease.
Plum Prunus domestica trees are best trained to grow in a vase shape with branches growing upwards and out from the centre stem. You want to have 3-4 main branches that come off of the trunk to allow plenty of sunlight and air flow through the tree. When pruning always make sure to cut back to a bud, leaving 3-4 on a stem.
Redcurrants Ribes rubrum produce their fruit on old wood so you need to make sure that when pruning you work methodically and only cut back what is necessary. If your plant is less than 3 years old, ideally you should not prune it at all as you will be cutting away any productive wood produced.
In the Winter when dormant, (December to March) you should be cutting back any diseased and damaged branches. You will also want to cut back any branches that are over 3 years old, cutting them right back to ground level. This will help to encourage new growth in the spring.
New growth should be left alone unless damaged, disease or crossing over, potentially causing more damage in the future.
Two-year-old stems should have their side shoots cut back to around a quarter of their size or down to two buds. This is to encourage new growth as well as strengthening the branches.
If you have branches that are touching the ground, it is ideal to shorten these back to help prevent diseases.
Blackberries and Raspberries
There are two types of Raspberries Rubus idaeus; Summer fruiting and autumn fruiting.
With the summer fruiting Raspberries you will want to prune down the old branches to the ground, that have already produced fruit. You should do this straight after your fruiting season is over and your plant isn't producing any more. This is to help new branches get plenty of sunlight and save the plant from wasting energy.
With the autumn fruiting Raspberries you will do similar, except you will cut down both old and new branches to the ground and you will want to do this in winter. However, if you forget to or prefer to wait you can also do it in the spring when new growth starts.
Blackberries are pruned in the exact same way that summer fruiting raspberries are.
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I hope this helps to answer your question on "How to prune redcurrants?" Judie.