All About Apricot Pruning

The most important element in caring for fruit trees is their pruning. And apricot is no exception. As a result of the correctly carried out procedure, fruiting improves, the quality of the fruits increases, and the life of the tree is extended. According to the technique of pruning apricot is somewhat different from pruning other fruit, which is due to the peculiarities of its physiological structure and functioning. Everyone will be able to independently master and perform this difficult agricultural technique by studying the materials of this article.

Apricot pruning key goals

There has long been no dispute between gardeners and specialists about the need for pruning fruit crops. Apricot has several specific features that make this procedure necessary:

  1. Photophilous: apricot does not tolerate thickening of the crown. If the tree does not have enough light, its branches dry out, laying flower buds occurs weakly.
  2. Features of the formation of fruits: the crop is formed mainly on annual shoots of various lengths, on spurs and bouquet branches. The latter do not live long and die after 2–5 years, which is why the branches are exposed.
  3. Lack of self-standardization of the crop: almost all the ovaries bear fruit. As a result, the tree is overloaded and the branches break off. Subsequently, the intensity of the laying of generative buds decreases, there is no growth in new shoots, fruitful ovaries thin out.

A consistently high yield of apricot can only be obtained with regular pruning.

What happens to apricot without pruning? In the first 3-4 years, the plant actively increases the crown and gives high yields. Then the condition of the tree deteriorates sharply: the crown grows, its middle will be exposed, and the circle is too thick. The branches will be thin and long. The fruits will lose their quality characteristics, become small and will only form on the periphery. The fruiting intensity will vary: in some years the tree will be dotted with fruits, in others it will rest.

Based on the described features of the apricot, pruning it as a preventive measure is designed to solve the following problems:

  • improve air access and light transmission of wood;
  • to provide an increase in young shoots for laying buds;
  • to normalize the congestion of branches with fruits;
  • reduce the risk of diseases and pests;
  • extend the life of the tree;
  • simplify the harvesting process;
  • increase the decorative appeal of the plant.

The basic principle and rules of trimming

The main principle to improve the fruiting of the tree is that annually it is necessary to prune at least one third of the branches. As gardeners say: "The more you cut, the more it grows."

In order for cropping to be effective, the following rules should be followed:

  1. An incision of the branch should be carried out at a distance of not more than 6 mm from the kidney.
  2. The number of branches to be removed should increase by about 20% every year. This will provide an increase in the volume and quality of the fruit.
  3. Branches older than 6 years should be removed. All damaged and dried fruit branches are also subject to pruning.
  4. The trimmer must be sterilized and sharpened to a razor condition.
  5. Places of cuts are better to be coated with garden var. It is not recommended to use paint for this purpose, since it can be toxic to the plant.

Types of Apricot Pruning

Depending on your goals, pruning is divided into several types:

  • formative;
  • regulatory;
  • anti-aging;
  • sanitary.

These varieties also differ in terms and technique of the procedure. As a rule, in practice, these types of trimming are not carried out separately, but are combined with each other.

Apricot Shredder

The main purpose of this type of pruning is to give the crown of the tree the desired shape and stimulate the growth of fruit branches. Formative events are carried out on young trees and continue until the moment of entry into the fruiting period.

The crown is formed in the spring before the buds open. In this case, the gardener himself decides what form to make the crown: in the form of a bush or a cup-shaped.

The formation of apricot bush

Often, gardeners adhere to a low-level crown formation system:

  • two branches remain in the tiers, the divergence angle of which is 180 ̊ 0;
  • the distance between the skeletal branches should be 30–40 cm;
  • skeletal branches should not be under each other;
  • the top shoots should not be longer than the bottom so as not to obscure the latter.

When using a discharged-tier system of pruning, the crown of an adult tree will resemble a bush

To obtain a crown of this shape, pruning is required for 3-4 years.

Video: apricot bush pruning

Bowl shaped apricot crown

Apricot can also be given a cup shape. Such pruning can improve access to light, provides good ventilation of the crown, which accelerates the ripening of fruits.

The trimming sequence for shaping the crown of the bowl is as follows:

  1. In the first year, 4–5 skeletal branches located at the same level are selected, which will serve as the base of the bowl. The remaining shoots are cut.
  2. To form a branch, starting from the second year, the selected branches are shortened at a distance of 50 cm from the stem. This procedure is repeated for another 2 years in a row.
  3. When the cupped shape is reached the central conductor is cut out.

Shaping crown shapes greatly simplifies harvesting

There is also an improved cupped trimming. The difference lies in the location of the skeletal branches: they are reduced to 3 pieces and they should be located at different levels with a distance of 20 cm from each other.

Adjust cropping

Regulatory pruning is done to maintain a balance between growth and fruit formation. It is carried out on adult trees that yield crops.

Apricot anti-aging pruning

A characteristic feature of the apricot is that on old trees the crop moves to the upper and lateral shoots, which is caused by drying out and weakening of annual growths. In this case, anti-aging pruning is performed. To rejuvenate the apricot tree, you must:

  1. Thin out the crown strongly: remove thickening, intersecting and crossing branches going inside the crown. In this case, it is better to remove 1-2 large branches than a large number of small branches.
  2. Cut the center conductor at a height of 3–3.5 m.
  3. Remove all side shoots on the lower two tiers.
  4. Eliminate all shoots on the trunk, at a height of 0.5 m from the ground.

Conduct anti-aging pruning is recommended in early spring, before budding. This procedure is also allowed in the summer with a deadline of 5 June.

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Video: spring pruning of old apricot

Sanitary pruning

The task of sanitary pruning is to clean the tree from dried, frozen, damaged by diseases or pests branches. These events can be held at any time, except for the winter season.

When is the best time to do apricot pruning?

Experienced gardeners note that pruning is best done in the early spring before sap flow and in the summer after fruiting.

The exact timing of spring pruning varies depending on the climatic conditions of the place of growth: from early March to late April. You should focus on the air temperature (not lower than + 60 ° C during the day, above 00 ° C at night) and the absence of risk of return frosts.

Summer pruning is done when the fruits are already harvested - around mid-June. Such a procedure will provide an abundant growth, while the tree will have time to fully recover and to establish generative buds on the emerging shoots of the second wave.

It is important to consider that summer pruning will be effective only when the tree does not lack moisture and nutrients.

Autumn pruning of early and mid-season apricots is carried out by residents of the southern regions around the middle of October. In the north, apricots are not cut in autumn. This limitation is associated with two points:

  • the tree tries to heal the wound and sends nutrients there instead of preparing properly for the winter;
  • places of cuts are very vulnerable to cold weather, therefore, with a sharp onset of frost, the tree may even die.

In winter, apricot pruning is not recommended.

Forming pruning depending on the age of the apricot

Annual manipulations on the formation of apricot crowns are carried out taking into account the age of the plant.

The initial pruning is carried out at the time of planting a young seedling on the site. It is necessary to shorten the main trunk to 80–90 cm, and remove the existing side shoots. Subsequent annual processing is carried out according to this scheme:

  • In the second year, 4–6 of the strongest shoots located at approximately the same distance around the trunk are selected from the side shoots. The rest are cut to the point of growth.
  • In the third year, 3-4 branches upward are left on these branches, the rest are completely removed. At the same time, at a distance of 50-60 cm above the first, a second tier is laid.
  • After another year, 5-6 annual branches are left on the shoots of the second order, which subsequently will bear fruit. The first tier on this is considered fully formed.

Schematically depicted pruning technique will allow the bush not to age and bear fruit abundantly

Features of apricot pruning in different growing regions

The climatic zone of apricot cultivation plays an important role in the selection of specific pruning dates. Spring pruning events are carried out before the sap flow begins:

  • in the southern regions, in the Kuban, in the Astrakhan and Rostov regions - in the beginning - in the middle of March.
  • in the central regions - from the third decade of March to mid-April.
  • in the northern regions - from mid to late April.

Autumn pruning is recommended until the air temperature drops below + 80 ° C. In the south, it is recommended to carry out procedures from October 15 to November 10, in the center - in the first half of October.

Gardeners of the Urals, Siberia and other northern regions prefer not to carry out the procedure in the fall, performing sanitary and forming pruning in the spring. This is due to the high probability of freezing of fruit trees.

The apricot pruning technique itself does not have significant regional differences. True, some experts recommend excluding the pruning of branches on the ring in areas with severe winters, for example, in Siberia. In their opinion, such a manipulation undermines the health of a tree, which is already difficult to survive in difficult Siberian conditions.

Features of pruning apricot

Graceful columnar apricot also requires pruning. Without this procedure, the plant will lose its decorative appearance, the crown will become sprawling and only the direction of fruit growth will remind of its belonging to the columnar.

Colon-shaped apricot is easily recognizable by its shape, which cannot be preserved without annual pruning

The tree pruning goals of this variety coincide with the tasks of pruning ordinary apricots. But special attention is paid to the formation of a crown in a columnless form. For this, during spring planting, the one-year-old seedling is cut as follows:

  1. The main trunk is shortened to 80–90 cm.
  2. If there are lateral shoots, then almost all of them are cut into a ring.
  3. Leave 2–3 vertically directed branches, which are cut in half so that the length of the central conductor is 20–25 cm longer.

In summer, it will be necessary to remove all competitive shoots formed at an acute angle.

Subsequent annual form adjustments will consist of trimming 3-4 main branches, which will then branch out. At the same time, it is recommended to keep the distance between them at 35–40 cm.

For several years of pruning in this way, a tree style is created. A further task of the procedure will be to maintain growth processes by shortening part of the branches to 15–20 cm in length. Also, old branches are trimmed on which the fruits are no longer tied.

Remember that if you cut the branch more than half, in the future it will give 3-4 strong shoots. And if you remove less than half the branches, then later shoots will grow more, but they will not be so large.

So, pruning a fruit tree is a difficult procedure and requires effort and time. But remember that by performing this preventive procedure, you will not only greatly facilitate tree care in the future, but also get a generous harvest and an aesthetic garden.

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