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How to Prune Fruit Trees

One Year Old Tree


A maiden whip (that is, a one year old tree with no side shoots) should be pruned to a bud with two buds below it, at about 80cm from the ground, immediately after planting to produce primary branches during the first growing season. 

A feathered whip (that is, a one year old tree with several side branches) should have its main stem pruned back to three or four strong shoots at 80cm from the ground.  Side shoots should be shortened by two thirds of their length to an upward or outward facing bud.  Lower shoots should be removed flush with the stem.

Two Year Old Tree


Remove any lower shoots and prune between three and five of the best placed shoots by half, to an upwards or outwards facing bud.  This will form what will become the tree’s main structural branches.  Remove any inwards facing shoots.



Three Year Old Tree


Prune the leading shoots of branches, selected to extend the framework, by half to a bud facing in the desired direction.  Select four good laterals to fill the framework and shorten these by a half.  Prune any remaining laterals to four buds to form fruiting spurs.


Four Year Old Tree


The tree will have begun to fruit and only limited formative pruning is now required.  Shorten leaders by one third and prune laterals not required to extend the framework to four buds.