Trees need care, just as other plants in the landscape. Watering, feeding and pruning on a regular basis keeps the trees healthy. Pruning at the wrong time of the year may endanger or kill the trees. Remove dead branches any time of the year, but avoid pruning fruit trees or flowering trees unless they are dormant.
Prune When Planting
Prune fruit trees when you plant them to remove dead or diseased branches. Pruning when you plant also shapes the tree by creating one or two central leaders and four or six branches. This is also the time when you train the growth pattern of the fruit tree. After planting, prune fruit trees only when the canopy does not allow good air circulation or proper sunlight to the entire tree.
Prune fruit trees in the early spring before new growth starts. This generally is done from February to March. Warmer temperatures in April may stimulate budding and tree growth. New growth is produced by the stored energy in the roots. If you remove the new growth before the tree has a chance to replenish the energy, it can weaken the tree. A weak tree is more susceptible to disease and pest infestation.
Storms happen in the summer, and high winds or lightning may damage the fruit trees. Remove damaged limbs as soon as possible during the summer to keep disease and pests from harming the tree. If the main leader is damaged, consider hiring a professional tree trimmer to remove the damaged section of the tree. For slight damage of smaller branches, remove the damaged branches as close to the trunk as possible.
Fall is when the fruit trees grow dormant. Prune before the first hard frost. Thin the canopy of the tree slightly, but avoid any heavy pruning during this time of year. Peach trees should not be pruned in the fall. For older trees, pruning in the fall stimulates new growth in the spring. September and October, after the trees drop their leaves, is when to prune in the fall. The temperatures in November may be too cold for healthy pruning.