Summer pruning of fruit trees is done both to increase next year’s crop and improve this year’s harvest. Most of the time pruning is done in winter when a tree is dormant, so pruning during the growing season may seem counterintuitive, but there are a few reasons to prune during this time of year.
Apples, pears, peaches, apricots, and cherries benefit the most from summer pruning.
Pruning fruit trees in summer controls undesirable growth and water sprouts. By trimming these off and pruning your tree you allow the fruit tree to put more energy into producing fruit than it does into producing branches.
Some stone fruits (apricots, peaches, and cherries) grow quickly, so after harvest, you should cut back about 50% of their new growth.
If you have young fruit trees, be careful to only prune a little bit at a time. The leaves you’re cutting off are your tree’s energy factory and they need them to grow strong. When you do prune, use that opportunity to shape the tree so that you can reach the fruit for eventual harvest. Dwarf fruit trees (which are most of the trees you’ll find in your local garden center) can be trained to grow into a number of shapes.
Finally, pruning your fruit trees allows more light to reach the fruits and will give them more air circulation. This can help deter pests and disease and make larger, sweeter fruit that is easy to reach.