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As the weather warms up, most homeowners and landscapers will be busy pruning trees, planting shrubs, mulching landscape beds, renovating or reseeding lawns and even making preparation for a home vegetable garden.
Winter has always been considered the best time to prune trees, especially fruit trees. Late winter is better than early winter. Because removal of diseased wood is a primary consideration, pruning should be done before growth begins in the spring.
When trees and vines begin fruiting, annual pruning is essential to renew fruiting wood and to adjust crop load. With time, fruit wood may lose its ability to have fruit and/or large-size fruit. Removal of some of this older fruit wood will stimulate the development of new, healthy wood that will have fruit buds in the coming years.
Pruning can be considered as a pest-control operation. Good pruning practices result in increased light penetration throughout the canopy of the plant. Light may also be regarded as a natural pesticide. Areas receiving adequate sunlight may be less prone to certain diseases.
Along with improved sunlight penetration comes better air circulation and spray penetration throughout the canopy of the plant. Together, these factors should facilitate good pest control. Conscientious pruning involves removal of diseased wood which may harbor problems for the coming growing season. This is the second way in which pruning may be regarded as a pest control operation.
A healthy, mature fruit tree will generally set more fruit buds than is needed for a full crop. If trees are allowed to overbear, fruit size will decrease, limb breakage may result due to the excess weight and certain varieties, especially in apples, may go into an alternate bearing cycle. Since fruit buds are formed in most crops the summer of the year prior for the appearance of the fruit, pruning may be regarded as a fruit thinning operation. While pruning will generally not eliminate the need for thing the crop following fruit set, it will reduce fruiting stress enough to allow for better early growth of the plant and the crop than would otherwise be seen.
More detail information on pruning can be found at Rutherford.tennessee.edu under publication and search for pruning neglected fruit trees and/or thinning tree fruits.
Anthony Tuggle is director of the Agricultural Extension Service in Rutherford County. Programs in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development, family and consumer sciences, and resource development. University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and county governments cooperating. UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.
Check out this story on dnj.com: http://on.dnj.com/1AhpcoD
Don't let insects and other vermin bug you. Consider a few easy-to-follow tips to safely inspect and pest proof your home. The acronym INSPECT can be an easy way to remember the steps to quality pest control.