GENERAL PRINCIPLES Home

This is not a complete synopsis of different pruning techniques. There is a profusion of literature on the subject, but it is generally too dense for those who tackle pruning for the first time.
The aim here is to define some basic notions as simply as possible. This means that they must be incomplete.
Nothing can replace experience in the field. But it is preferable to start with some clear ideas that will be enriched by practice.

Why prune ?
The purpose of pruning is to optimise the productivity of a tree, taking into account its physiology.


Différent pruning techniques :
Firstly formative pruning.
Then regular pruning of the fruiting tree
If these have been neglected, there remains renewal pruning.

TOOLS

Secateurs (some models with "articulated handles" avoid cramp)
A curved pruning saw that cuts when pulled (various sizes). Some models can be adapted onto a telescopic pole.
A pruning hook (on the same pole)
A pruning knife, for any necessary trimming (See grafting tools).
A 3-footed stepladder that must be very stable (different sizes).
You may also need pruning mastic (for large wounds).

How to "cut" ?
To encourage the development of the callus that will progressively cover the wound, be careful where you cut.
At the base of a secondary branch, there is a "wrinkle" in the bark of the main branch. At its base, a little swelling marks the start of the branch : the "neck".
An ideal cut should be between the neck of the branch and the wrinkle in the bark.
Longer or shorter cuts would make healing longer, leaving an open invitation to all sorts of intruders.

This is a general method for cutting off a branch.
WHEN TO PRUNE

Heavy work (formative pruning, branch cutting…) should be carried out in winter, but not when it is freezing.
Anyway, the pruning season ends before flowering and leafing.
In summer, the only thing to be done, if needed, is "pinching out".

DEFINITIONS (trees bearing pip fruit)
a/ Vegetative organs

- dormant eye (or dormant bud) :
Not easily visible, situated at the base of a small branch, it is triangular and flat against the branch. It can remain in the same state for years, disappear of its own accord or produce a shoot.

- vegetative bud :
When situated at the axil (base) of the leaf stalk, it is called "axillary".
When situated at the end of a branch, or a branch extension, it is called "apical" or "apex".
The following year it will grow into a leaf, a leaf shoot or a spur… or a flower bud, depending on many parameters : position on the tree, supply of sap and especially hormones.
It is called "shield" when it is used, detached and on its own, for the propagation of a variety (bud grafting).

- smooth spur :
Short branch, 1 to 5 cm long, ending in a conical, pointed, vegetative bud.
It may remain at this stage for one or two years, then evolve into a leaf shoot or a flower bud according to the supply of sap.

- twig :
Spindly branch, 15 to 20 cm long, carrying vegetative buds. May stay like this for several years, except for the possibility of the end bud developing into a flower bud (coronal twig).
- branch :

Integral part of the tree structure resulting from the growth, over several years, of a twig or a sucker, whether pruned or not.
b/ Fruit bearing organs

-
flower bud
:
Bigger and especially more rounded than the vegetative bud.

- fruit shoot :
This is a spur that has developed into a 3 to 5 cm organ ending in a flower bud which, if it is fertilized, will fruit.

- bourse :
A fruit shoot that has born fruit. It forms a thick mass from which other fruit shoots have grown.

- spur system :
Heterogeneous ramification that can carry several organs : vegetative buds, flower buds, spurs, fruit shoots. It may fruit several years running.
.