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Gardening Tasks for March: Time to prune your apple tree

Photo: Julie Weisenhorn, UMN Extension
It may be frigid and cold outside with mounds of snow everywhere you look! But this is a great time to prune your apple trees to keep your tree healthy and produce a good harvest of good quality apples. In fact, did you know? Annual pruning is a crucial part of the care of an apple tree.

Why prune? 

Annie Klodd, UMN Extension Educator-Fruit and Vegetable Production: Pruning is essential for reliable fruit production from year to year. If left to their own devices, apple trees will develop dense canopies and many small fruit with uneven ripening, reduced quality, or generally lower productivity. Pruning focuses the tree’s energy into producing larger, higher quality apples and increases airflow through the tree, reducing disease potential.

How often should I prune an apple tree?

Apple trees should be pruned every year during dormancy. Early spring is a great time to prune, after the coldest winter temperatures have passed but before the trees break dormancy and bloom.

Step-by-step instructions

Extension Educator Annie Klodd put together this 3-part series on how to prune your apple tree with the help of UMN Apple Researcher David Bedford and Research Fellow Emily Tepe:

  • Part 1: Why we prune and what tools to use,
  • Part 2: Diseased, dead and damaged limbs
  • Part 3: Pruning for shape and fruit quality. 

Apple tree pruning, Part 1: 

Apple tree pruning, Part 2: 

Apple tree pruning, Part 3:

Videos produced & edited by Gail Hudson, UMN Extension Communications Specialist
Here's a link to Annie's article with more information:

Author: Gail Hudson, UMN Extension Communications

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