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Plum tree (Prunus 'Blue Bell')
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Normand Rosa)

Spring

After heavy frost, until buds open (mid-February to mid-April)

For young trees, the early years

Light formative pruning

  • Select well-oriented scaffold branches; correct any defects: double leaders, sprouts, suckers, branches at the same height on the trunk (strangulation).
  • Stake dwarf trees; mulch under the tree; water during dry spells.

Max: 10 to 15% of the crown

For mature trees, subsequent years

Maintenance pruning

  • Cleaning: remove dead or diseased branches, sprouts and suckers, double leaders and strangulations.
  • Renewal: thin large scaffold branches (diameter more than 30% of the trunk); remove large secondary branches (diameter more than 30% of scaffold branches).

Max: 15 to 20% of the crown

For neglected or damaged trees

Renovation pruning

  • Thin the crown: remove any broken or diseased branches, sprouts, suckers, double leaders and strangulations.
  • Thin scaffold branches and cut back any poorly oriented branches to a sap drawer.

Max: 15 to 25% of the crown

For diseased or infested trees

Light or heavy pruning

  • Thin the crown: remove a few large scaffold and secondary branches, remove any broken branches, stubs, sprouts, suckers and strangulations.
  • Cut back all infected branches to at least 10 cm under the cankers or discoloured bark; identify pests.
  • Do not compost infested debris As a last resort, use a low-impact pesticide.

Max: 15 to 30% of the crown

Summer

After fruit form (setting) (mid-June to late July)

For young trees, the early years

Light corrective pruning

  • Remove all sprouts and suckers.
  • Water abundantly. Mulch under the tree.

Max: 5 to 10% of the crown

For mature trees, subsequent years

Light corrective pruning

  • Remove all sprouts and suckers.

Fruiting pruning

  • Clear foliage from around fruit as it forms; pinch back surplus fruit or support heavy branches.
  • Water during dry spells. Mulch under the tree.

Max: 5 to 10% of the crown

For neglected or damaged trees

Light corrective pruning

  • Remove all sprouts and suckers.

Max: 5 to 10% of the crown

For diseased or infested trees

Light corrective pruning

  • Remove all sprouts and suckers. Pick up all infested fruit and leaves as they drop. Do not compost debris.
  • As a last resort, use a low impact pesticide.

Max: 10% of the crown

Fall and winter

  • Avoid pruning, except for diseased or dangerous branches.
  • Install winter protection against rodents around trunks (collars, spirals)
  • Gather and destroy all infested or diseased plant material.

Note:

Dead, broken, diseased or poorly oriented branches may be removed in any season to prevent accidents and disease transmission. These figures apply to apple trees. Pear, cherry and prune trees must be pruned very lightly (never exceed more than 15% of the crown).

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