All about pruning apple trees

Unlike some other fruit trees, the apple tree needs a mandatory crown formation and regular pruning. Without this necessary stage, one cannot count on the yield and quality of the fruits declared by the variety. The gardener must clearly understand - how and why this or that pruning is carried out, how to carry it out correctly.

Apple tree pruning dates

It is impossible to give the exact calendar terms for pruning the apple tree - they depend on the type of pruning and the region of cultivation. The basic rule determining the possibility of pruning is that such an operation can only be carried out when the tree is at rest. And this means that during spring pruning it is carried out before the sap flow begins, that is, before the kidneys swell. Do not do this too early - often return frosts below -15 ° C lead to tree disease with cytosporosis. But it is also undesirable to be late - with the onset of active sap flow, the wounds will heal poorly and for a long time, which leads to profuse gum bleeding, the same cytosporosis and weakening of the apple tree. It should be noted right away that most of the types of pruning are carried out precisely in the spring. Autumn pruning should be carried out after the end of the growing season. Moreover, early spring dates are suitable for all regions, and autumn - only for areas with warm winters. In the summer, it is allowed to remove or shorten only thin branches with a diameter of not more than 5-8 mm.

The main types of cropping

Depending on the set goals and the tasks to be solved, trimming is divided into several types. This is done for the convenience of understanding which branches need to be cut or shortened.

Formative pruning of apple trees in different patterns

The formation of the crown is a mandatory step in the care of the apple tree, which is performed in the first years after planting. If you skip this stage, then the so-called free-growing crown will form, which has a number of disadvantages:

  • The crown becomes highly thickened, its internal volume is poorly lit and ventilated. This becomes a favorable factor for the development of various diseases and the population of the tree with pest colonies.
  • Uncontrolled growth of a tree leads to its large size, which causes difficulties in caring for it and the loss of part of the crop.
  • Skeletal branches often come out of subordination to the central conductor, which leads to the formation of forks. As a result, the crown becomes fragile, some branches can break off under the weight of the crop.
  • There are frequent cases of the formation of two to three almost equivalent trunks, which is also not correct.

    A free-growing apple tree has a thickened crown with randomly growing branches

Currently, quite a few different formations of the crown of the apple tree are known. Consider the most used.

Sparse-tier crown

The oldest of the formations. It is a classic, mainly used for tall trees. Such a formation involves the creation of two to three tiers of skeletal branches within four to six years after planting a seedling. 1-2 years are allotted to the formation of each tier. The height of the stem is laid at the level of 40-60 centimeters.

A stem is a part of the trunk from the root neck to the base of the lower skeletal branch.

The number of skeletal branches in each tier can be from one to three, they should be positioned so that they are directed in different directions and do not interfere with each other. If the crown is not full enough, then on some skeletal branches leave one or two branches of the second order.

Sparse-tier formation of the crown is used for tall varieties of apple trees

Cup crown

The shape of the crown in the form of a bowl has recently become very popular for many fruit trees of low and medium growth. This form provides:

  • Tree height control.
  • Optimum illumination of the entire volume of the crown.
  • Good ventilation.
  • Convenience of tree care and harvesting.

There are two types of bowls:

  • A simple bowl - the branches of the crown are on the same level.
  • Reinforced bowl - branches are located at some distance from each other.

    Bowl shaped crown shape is popular for low and medium height apple varieties

The second option is preferable, since in this case the branches can carry a large load. In order to give the apple-tree a cup shape when planting a seedling, cut it to a height of 60-80 centimeters. After one or two years, 3-4 of the strongest branches are selected from the branches that appear, located at a distance of 10-15 centimeters from each other (in the case of the formation of a reinforced bowl) and growing in different directions. These are future skeletal branches. They are cut off by 40-50%, and all other branches are completely removed. Such pruning provokes increased formation of lateral shoots and tops, leading to thickening of the crown. Therefore, in the future, it is necessary to carry out regulatory trimming annually and make sure that the skeletal branches remain equal, i.e., they are the same length. It is impossible to allow a situation where one of the branches will dominate and take on the role of the central conductor - its presence is excluded with this formation.

The crown of the apple-tree in the shape of a bowl is well lit and ventilated

Apple tree spindle formation

The spindle-shaped crown formation has become widespread in intensive gardens. It is mainly used for plants on dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks. Usually they form a shaft with a height of 40-50 centimeters, a tree height within 2.5-3.5 meters and a crown diameter of 3.5-4 meters. For this:

  1. When planting a seedling, buds and twigs are removed at the required height of the stem.
  2. The central conductor is cut to a height of 80 centimeters in the case of an annual seedling. For a two-year, this height will be 100-120 centimeters.
  3. One year after planting, leave 5-7 branches of the lower tier and tie them to a horizontal level in order to limit growth. Excess shoots are removed.
  4. Over the next 3-4 years, several more tiers of branches are similarly formed, cutting out tops and shoots thickening the crown. After the tree reaches the required height, the central conductor can be cut.

    Spindle-shaped crown formation is most common in intensive gardens

  5. In the future, the lower tier will consist of permanent branches of the skeletal type, and the upper tiers of fruiting branches of three to four years of age, periodically replaced during the anti-aging pruning.

Super spindle

This method differs from the previous one in a smaller crown diameter (0.8-1.2 meters), which is necessary for compacted landings. The principles of formation are the same as described above, only the central conductor should not be cut off, since this provokes increased growth of the side branches. And also often formed in this way, apple trees require garters to stake or trellis.

The apple trees formed by type of super-spindle require garter to a stake or trellis

Formation of apple trees on a trellis

When conducting intensive cultivation of apple trees, trellis was increasingly used. For these purposes, various types of crown formations can be used:

  • flat spindle;
  • super spindle;
  • various types of palmettes;
  • fan formation;
  • all kinds of cordons and others.

What unites them is that the crowns of the trees are located in one plane. At the same time, the most efficient use of the areas, ease of maintenance and harvesting is achieved. All branches on the trellis are well ventilated and receive a sufficient amount of light. In home gardening, this method allows you to grow apple trees and other plants, placing their crowns on the walls of the building or fences, which creates additional opportunities for decorating the site.

Photo gallery: apple tree forming options for trellis cultivation

Most often, for growing on a trellis, an apple tree is formed in the form of palmettes

As a trellis, a fence is quite suitable

Arched trellis for apple trees looks very unusual

Horizontal cordon is a good solution for growing apple trees on a trellis

True shaping of apple trees also requires trellis

The wall of the building can serve as a trellis for the apple tree

Weeping Apple Tree Formation

This form is most often used for decorative purposes to decorate the site. There are two main ways to create it. In the first case, a seedling of a weeping variety is simply planted or a stalk of this variety is grafted onto a dwarf stock. Such varieties include apple trees bred at the South Ural Scientific Research Institute of Fruit and Nutrition (Research Institute for Horticulture and Potato) based on the ancient German variety Eliza Ratke (aka Vydubetskaya weeping):

  • Miraculous;
  • Cabin boy;
  • Grounded;
  • Bratchud (Brother of the Wonderful).

    Weeping apple tree Bratchud - winter-hardy variety of medium-winter ripening period

These apple trees, in addition to decorative qualities, have increased winter hardiness and can withstand frosts down to -40 ° C. In addition to them, there are also purely decorative varieties of weeping apple trees with inedible fruits.

But since it is not always possible to get a seedling or a stalk of such an apple tree, you can go the second way - apply the method of reverse vaccination. At the same time, an apple tree with a stem about two meters high is grown and 3-4 cuttings are grafted at this level using the “lateral incision” method, with their kidneys down. The shoots that appear after vaccination are tied in the necessary position and a year later they are cut to 3-4 buds in order to obtain a dense crown. This pruning is repeated annually for three to four years until the crown is fully formed. In the future, you need to regularly thin out the crown and remove the tops.

To create a weeping crown shape, grafts of 3-4 cuttings with buds pointing down are grafted onto the stock stem in the lateral incision

Video: weeping apple tree review

Flange form

In a harsh climate, to grow an apple tree, it is necessary to form its crown in the form of a stlan. This is done so that it is possible to completely cover the tree for the winter with snow or some kind of covering materials. Tree formation begins from the moment of planting. It is better to choose varieties with a natural creeping crown, for example, Melba or Borovinka, but you can also use others.

Given that the height of the tree should not exceed 45-50 centimeters, its stem will be no higher than 15-20 centimeters. 2–4 skeletal branches are formed above the stem, arranged in a cross or crest. From the moment branches are formed and for a long period they are constantly pinned to the ground. And also branches of the second order are also pinned. Other shoots are given the opportunity to grow freely.

In the process of creating a stlan formation of an apple tree, skeletal branches and shoots of the second order are pinned to the ground

Sometimes, with such a formation, two tiers of skeletal branches located one above the other are created. But, as practice has shown, this method has two significant drawbacks:

  • The lower tier is in the shadow of the upper, which leads to poor ventilation, and this, in turn, creates favorable conditions for the development of diseases.
  • The upper tier is too high and may freeze in the event of a cold snowless winter.

Video: Overview of the Stane Apple Tree

Stamp form

Perhaps, all the listed formations can be attributed to the standard. After all, even the stanzed apple tree has a small bole. But sometimes this is called the formation of the apple tree, in which the height of the stem is at least 1.5-2 meters. It would be correct to call it high-standard. This is often done with a decorative purpose, giving in the future the crown spherical, ellipsoidal, prismatic and other forms. To do this, grow the boles of the required height. It is better if they use strong-growing stocks, for example:

  • Bittenfelder;
  • Graham anniversary;
  • A2;
  • M11 and others.

A year after planting, the young shoot is cut off by 15-20%. At a distance of 10 centimeters from the cut, all the kidneys are blinded, leaving one located above the vaccination site. A year later, when a new shoot appears from the kidney, it is tied vertically to the left hemp with a bast or other elastic material. From this shoot, a standard will be formed. After the young shoot “remembers” its correct position, the stump is cut with a sharp knife. Subsequently, lateral branches are trimmed until the height of the stem reaches the desired. It is clear that the greater the height required, the longer the process will take. After reaching the desired height, the shoot is cut off at a height of 10-15 centimeters above it, and all branches on this segment are shortened.

The process of creating a high stem can take 3-4 years

Next, you can proceed to the formation of the crown. And also do not forget to regularly cut the shoots that arise on the stem and from the roots throughout the entire period.

A high-stamped formation is given to apple trees for decorative purposes

Bush form

This formation, along with the stanza, is often used in harsh climatic conditions. It looks like a cup-shaped, but only has a lower stem and a larger number of skeletal branches. A bushy shape is created like this:

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  1. In the first one or two years after planting, a low (10-15 centimeters) standard is created.
  2. Immediately above it, skeletal branches of the first order are formed. At the first stage there can be many of them - this is good, since they will improve the general condition of the tree and contribute to the development of the root system. Only branches with discharge angles of less than 45 ° and more than 80 ° are removed at this stage.
  3. An advantage in growth is provided by the central conductor, matching the skeletal branches by shortening them.
  4. After the tree is strong enough, they begin to thin out the crown, cutting out extra shoots that thicken the internal volume.
  5. Next, annual pruning is carried out, subordinating the thinner branches to thick ones. If you want to correct the direction of growth of the branches, then the drooping ones are cut to the upper kidney, and the vertical ones to the lower or lateral.
  6. After the formation is completed (usually this happens for 5-6 years), the central conductor is cut out above the base of the upper skeletal branch.

    The bushy crown of the apple tree is often used in regions with severe climatic conditions.

Video: an interesting way to form an apple tree with ringing the bark

Adjust cropping

Regulating is called trimming, the purpose of which is to adjust the filling of the internal volume of the crown to create optimal ventilation and lighting conditions. If necessary, it is carried out in early spring in combination with other types of scraps. At the same time, branches growing inside the crown are cut vertically up (tops) or down, as well as intersecting. Performing this stage, you should observe a sense of proportion and not remove too many branches. It should be remembered that, as a rule, there are many fruit twigs on them and excessive pruning will lead to the loss of part of the crop.

Regulating is called trimming, the purpose of which is to adjust the filling of the internal volume of the crown to create optimal ventilation and light conditions


Sanitary pruning is carried out mainly in late autumn. When it is performed, dry, diseased and damaged branches are removed. Removing parts of the branches, they are cut to healthy wood. If necessary, sanitary pruning is repeated in the spring in those cases when in winter some branches were broken by the wind or under the weight of the snow.


To maintain fruiting at a constantly high level, support pruning is performed. It is also performed in the spring and in its process there is a phased replacement of the prolific crown branches older than three to four years with younger ones. Branches are subject to removal, the growth of which decreased to 10-15 centimeters. In this case, crown decimation is partially carried out. Sometimes in early summer, when there is an active growth of young shoots, they are shortened by 5-10 centimeters (this technique is called chasing), which leads to the formation of additional lateral fouling branches on them. Subsequently, fruit formations form on these branches, which is the laying of the harvest for the next 2-3 years.

On the fruiting branch there should be fruit formations


From the name it is clear that this stage is performed for an old tree in order to restore the level of fruiting and extend the life of the tree. To some extent, anti-aging pruning is carried out with an interval of 4-5 years starting from about ten years of age. The occurrence of the need for rejuvenation is determined by the following signs:

  • Yields decreased and the fruits were chopped.
  • Flowers and fruits are formed only at the ends of branches and on top of a tree.
  • The low level of shoot formation, and the formed young shoots are too short (no more than 10-15 cm).
  • The tree is too tall with a dense running crown.

In order to rejuvenate:

  • Old skeletal and semi-skeletal branches are removed or greatly shortened.
  • Reduce crown height by shortening the trunk.
  • Thin out the internal volume of the crown by cutting out intersecting and other interfering branches.

If the tree is too neglected, then the planned amount of work is distributed for 2-3 years, so that it is easier for the tree to undergo the operation.

Rules and techniques for trimming

When conducting pruning apple trees should adhere to certain rules. They are simple and consist of the following:

  • Trimming should be done regularly.
  • The cutting tool (secateurs, delimbers, garden saws, garden knives) should be sharpened sharply.
  • It is advisable to sanitize the tool before starting work. To do this, you can apply:
    • 3% solution of copper sulfate;
    • 3% hydrogen peroxide solution;
    • alcohol, etc.
  • The whole branches are cut with a “ring” technique. Leaving stumps is not allowed, since after drying they become a refuge for fungi and pests.
  • Thick branches should be cut in several steps to avoid breaking off from the trunk and damage to neighboring branches.
  • After pruning, all sections with a diameter exceeding 10 mm should be protected with a layer of garden varnish.

Ring trim

Each branch has a cambial ring at the base. It can be pronounced or completely absent. In the first case, the slice is carried out precisely along this ring.

When pruning a branch, you cannot leave a stump or cut too deep into the donor branch

In the second, the branch is cut along the bisector of the angle between the axis of the trunk (parent branch) and the conditional line perpendicular to the axis of the cut branch.

In the absence of a pronounced ring at the base of the branch to be removed, a cut is made along the bisector of the angle between the perpendicular to its axis and the axis of the trunk (parent branch)

On the kidney

In the case of shortening the shoot, a cut is made “on the kidney”. Depending on its location, the slice can be:

  • on the inner kidney;
  • on the external kidney;
  • on the side kidney.

It depends on where the shoot will be directed, which subsequently grows from the left kidney. Thus, it is possible to increase or decrease the diameter of the crown, depending on the need.

By cutting the shoots on the kidney, you can increase or decrease the diameter of the crown, depending on the need

When performing this slice, it should be placed above the kidney by 0.5-1 cm and sent from top to bottom.

A cut on the kidney should be placed above it by 0.5-1 centimeter and adjusted from top to bottom

For translation

If a branch needs to be redirected, then a branch growing in the desired direction is selected on it, and a cut of the main branch is made above its base. After that, the direction of growth will change to a predetermined one. Thus, you can expand or narrow the crown and give it the desired shape. The rules for such pruning are identical to the rules for pruning a kidney.

Translation pruning rules are identical to kidney pruning rules

Features of pruning in various species of apple trees

Different types of apple trees have some pruning features.

How to prune a grafted apple tree

If we are talking about a grafted seedling, then its pruning is no different from root. Но если объектом внимания является перепривитая яблоня, то процесс её обрезки и формирования иной. Как обычно, его проводят весной следующего после прививки года. В первую очередь следует удалить неперепривитые ветки и поросль (если она имеется). После этого укорачивают побеги на прививках, соблюдая принцип соподчинения между собой прививок каждого яруса дерева.

Принцип соподчинения в формировке кроны дерева означает, что ветви каждого следующего яруса должны быть короче ветвей предыдущего, а верхушки их — выше верхушек ветвей предыдущего яруса.

У каждой прививки нужно выбрать один побег, который станет основным и заменит перепривитую ветвь. Все другие ветки на прививке подчиняют этому побегу. В течение следующих 4—5 лет продолжают создание равномерно заполненной кроны путём прореживания и перевода ветвей в нужном направлении.

Как обрезать яблоню с двумя стволами

Два ствол у яблони — это результат неправильной формировки либо её отсутствия. Это явление нежелательное, так как два равнозначных ствола будут постоянно конкурировать между собой и расти высоко вверх. Лучше такого не допускать, но если этот неприятный факт уже произошёл и удалять один из стволов жалко, то формируют крону по обстоятельствам. Для начала нужно сдержать рост стволов вверх, обрезав их на приемлемой высоте (до 3–4 метров). Провести прореживание общей кроны, руководствуясь изложенными выше правилами. Не допускать перекрещивания ветвей между собой. В целом принципы формирования кроны такие же, как и при одном стволе.

Обрезка стелющейся яблони

Стелющаяся яблоня требует постоянных обрезок не реже двух раз в год. Как правило, осенью проводят санитарную обрезку, а ранней весной поддерживающую и регулирующую. При необходимости летом вырезают волчки и другие загущающие побеги.

Особенности обрезки в зависимости от возраста яблони

В течение жизни яблони практически ежегодно её подвергают различным видам обрезок, описанным выше. Для молодых яблонь в первую очередь применяют формирующую обрезку, создавая выбранную форму кроны. А также при необходимости выполняют санитарную и регулирующую обрезки. После вступления в плодоношение через некоторое время понадобится поддерживающая обрезка. В течение всего продуктивного периода перечисленные виды обрезок (кроме формирующей) проводят регулярно. Когда же яблоня достигнет почтенного возраста, то наверняка придётся прибегнуть к её омоложению путём соответствующей обрезки, описанной выше.

Обрезка взрослой яблони — инструкция для начинающих

Бывают случаи, когда по каким-либо причинам взрослая яблоня в возрасте около 10 лет оказалась запущенной. В такой ситуации перед садоводом стоит задача провести её грамотную обрезку с целью упорядочивания кроны и восстановления нормального уровня плодоношения. Для этого нужно обеспечить равномерную освещённость и вентиляцию всех ветвей, создать условия для максимального прироста молодых плодоносящих побегов. В принципе, материала, изложенного выше, вполне достаточно для выполнения поставленной задачи. Просто кратко систематизируем его применительно к конкретной ситуации. Итак, пошаговая инструкция обрезки взрослой яблони:

  1. Прежде чем приступить к обрезке необходимо запастись качественным режущим инструментом (сучкорез, секатор, садовая ножовка, садовый нож). Инструмент должен быть остро заточен и продезинфицирован (подробнее об этом было выше). Если дерево выше двух метров также понадобится стремянка.
  2. После этого в первую очередь очищают крону от сухих, сломанных, больных веток. А также вырезают все загущающие крону, отплодоносившие (санитарная, регулирующая и поддерживающая обрезки) и обвисшие до земли ветки.

    Обрезку взрослой запущенной яблони начинают с удаления сухих, сломанных и больных веток

  3. При необходимости снижают высоту кроны для чего обрезают центральный проводник на приемлемой высоте вместе с растущими на нём ветками. Если объём удаляемой древесины большой, то делают это в несколько приёмов.
  4. Следующий этап — восстановление правильной формы кроны. Для этого укорачивают ветки, выходящие за её пределы и нарушающие принцип соподчинённости.

    Основная задача обрезки запущенной яблони — обеспечить равномерное освещение и вентиляцию всех ветвей, создать условия для максимального прироста молодых плодоносящих побегов

  5. Убедившись, что крона достаточно освещена и хорошо проветривается, убирают из рабочей зоны срезанные ветки и обрабатывают срезы садовым варом.

Особенности обрезки яблонь по районам выращивания

В различных районах выращивания, отличающихся климатическими условиями, сохраняются одинаковые требования по срокам проведения обрезок — их всегда выполняют в состоянии покоя, преимущественно ранней весной. Отличаются только конкретные календарные сроки, присущие каждому из регионов. А также от региона выращивания зависят предпочтительные формировки кроны яблони. В этом плане действует принцип: чем холоднее климат — тем ниже должна быть крона.

Обрезка яблонь на Урале и в Сибири (в том числе на Алтае)

Для большинства районов Сибири и Урала доступны четыре группы сортов, из которых первые две выращивают в кустовидной или чашеобразной форме:

  • Ранетки:
    • Ранетка Ермолаева;
    • Смена;
    • Барнаулочка;
    • Добрыня и другие.
  • Полукультурные:
    • Сувенир Алтая;
    • Горноалтайское;
    • Ермаковское горное;
    • Алёнушка и другие.
  • Крупноплодные стелющиеся (в суровых условиях выращивают исключительно в стланцевой форме):
    • Мельба;
    • Северный Синап;
    • Боровинка;
    • Уэлси и другие.
  • Плакучие (примеры сортов указаны выше).

Способы придания нужной формы кроны описаны ранее. К особенностям обрезки в этих регионах можно отнести тот факт, что зачастую в результате поражения морозами скелетных и полускелетных ветвей их приходится восстанавливать за счёт волчков. Для этого берут первый сильнорослый волчок и обрезают его примерно на 30%, что сдерживает рост и провоцирует ветвление. С помощью обрезки на почку направляют побег в свободное пространство кроны. Довольно быстро — в течение 3—4 лет — волчок становится обычной ветвью и вступает в плодоношение.

Вторая особенность — возможная гибель обмороженных веток или их частей, находящихся над уровнем снега. При этом иногда приходится полностью удалять поражённые побеги выше этого уровня. После этого формируют новую крону из нижних ветвей по типу кустовидной либо чашеобразной. На первом этапе позволяют расти всем образовавшимся побегам, а к середине лета вырезают их, оставляя 5—7 наиболее развитых и сильных. Обычно в таких случаях крона восстанавливается за 1—2 года.

Обрезка яблонь в средней полосе, в том числе Подмосковье и Ленинградской области

В этих регионах доступны все формировки, описанные выше. Поэтому их применение — вопрос целесообразности и предпочтений садовода. Понятно, что стланцевая либо кустовидная формировки вряд ли здесь будут применяться, но возможность этого существует. Что касается сроков обрезок, то они выбираются весной ориентировочно в конце февраля для юга средней полосы и в течение марта для Подмосковья и Ленинградской области.

Особенности обрезки яблонь в южных регионах, в том числе Краснодарском крае и Крыму

Здесь — полная свобода. Применимы любые формировки и любые сроки — от поздней осени до ранней весны. Можно обрезать даже зимой, если в районе выращивания морозы не опускаются ниже -15 °C.

Despite the abundance of various methods of forming the crown of an apple tree, upon closer examination, this stage is not so complicated. Having carefully studied the instructions and rules for pruning, even a beginner gardener can perform them. The main thing at the same time is not to start the tree and regularly look after its crown. In this case, high yields of high-quality fruits and tree longevity are guaranteed.


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