Winter is an important time for fruit trees. It might not be obvious since there are no blossoms or fruit but that is precisely why winter is the best time to take care of your trees. They are currently dormant and, therefore, pruning and care can be performed with minimal harm done to the tree and the coming year’s harvest.
In fact, quite the opposite! There are enormous benefits to winter tree care! Pruning helps to develop a well-structured tree that is the size and shape that you want (think about easy picking!). Winter care also maximizes fruit production and quality while maintaining the health and longevity of the tree.
Fruit Tree Pruning
Winter pruning invigorates a tree for the coming year and improves its overall health. Younger trees require heavier pruning to establish lifelong shape and set the tree up for proper fruit production.
Before pruning, be sure to research your specific tree variety to understand where the tree sets fruit and which branches might need to be removed (old wood versus newer wood). When making cuts, be careful and calculated. Use sharp tools and do not cut too close to the terminal bud of a branch (where branches meet).
When in doubt, focus on removing dead, diseased or damaged wood first. Consider taking one of our free pruning workshops to sharpen your skills!
Don’t over-water or over-fertilize your fruit trees. They will grow larger than you want and bare less fruit. Ideally, in winter, fruit trees do not need to be watered at all. However, in drought conditions, we recommend watering 5 gallons per tree per month. When planting and pruning, be aware of air circulation. Each tree needs enough air flow to help minimize disease problems and fungal growth. Make sure your soil drains well but isn’t too sandy. Ensure that there is enough organic matter to keep the tree strong and healthy.
Your fruit trees will benefit from an application of dormant spray anytime between now and the end of February. This spray is a preventative measure to avoid insect and disease issues in the coming year. It prevents infestations during the winter to set trees up for a healthy spring.
If you don’t want to take care of your fruit trees yourself, our expert landscapers can help! Evergreen’s Tree Care service includes pruning, clean-up and haul-away. Contact us today at (510) 632-1522 to speak with one our experts and schedule an appointment. Ask for Paul, Larry or Doug!