When to Trim a Fruit Tree in Ohio

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Prune before the tree produces flowers and buds.

Fruit trees grow in orchards, groves, gardens and backyards in many areas of the United States. In Ohio, whether you're growing pears, apples, peaches, plums, cherries or even nut-producing trees like oaks and walnuts, keeping them pruned is important if you want a "fruitful" harvest. Trim fruit trees in the Buckeye State before they sprout new growth. Because of the ever-changing Ohio weather, that means keeping an eye on the calendar and on the thermometer.

Why Fruit Trees in Ohio Should Be Pruned

Trimming trees helps them produce more fruit.

Fruit trees such as apples and pears need sunlight. Trimming old brush and dead twigs helps the interiors of trees soak up sunlight, develop fruit-flower buds and shape their crowns. Trees that are not pruned may produce just as many pieces of fruit as trimmed trees do; however, the fruits may be smaller and more susceptible to disease. Trimming fruit-bearing trees helps produce sweeter pieces that grow larger, ripen more evenly and harvest more easily. Rainwater dries more quickly, and insecticides have better access when they are sprayed on fruit trees that don't have excess brush.

When Fruit Trees Should Be Pruned

Because Ohio is known for its cold winters and sometimes cold springs, pruning fruit trees should occur in the dormant season; early spring with temperatures above freezing but before they warm up enough to produce new growth. The Ohio State University Extension suggests trimming heavily on trees that have had no or little pruning over the last several years by making thin cuts above a branch or bud. Apple, pear, peach, nectarine, plum, cherry and other fruit- and nut-producing trees should be trimmed during the late part of the dormant season.

How All Fruit Trees in Ohio Should Be Pruned

Use small shears to prune small branches.

Clip just beyond the branch or bud and be careful not to cut too closely; stripping the excess growth off the branch can cause damage to the area. If the tree has not been trimmed in several years, do not take too much deadwood off; spread out the "barber" sessions over several seasons. Use the correct-size tool for the twig or branch you want to trim; small clippers for twigs, shears or loppers for thin to medium branches, or a saw for bigger limbs.

Cultivating Peach and Nectarine Trees in Ohio

Too many fruits on a branch can damage the tree.

In order to develop strong trunks, evenly spaced branches and good fruits, plant peach and nectarine trees in areas of direct sunlight and prune them every year. The Ohio State University Extension says trimming the trees to a height of about 30 inches immediately after planting will help it develop a good shape. Remove broken and diseased limbs during the first year as well as the little offshoots that develop in the trunk. During the next couple of seasons, trim off the dead and broken twigs, guiding the tree's stature upward. Buds must be thinned out occasionally; the weight and nutrition needs of too many fruits can damage the tree.

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Teri Silver

Teri Silver began a career in 1984 as a news, sports and feature writer/reporter, anchor, editor, producer and program host for central Ohio radio and television stations. She has done work for stations including WTVN, WMNI and WOSU (NPR). Silver has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with an English minor from The Ohio State University.