The leaves have fallen and it feels a lot more like winter than it does autumn. I decided this weekend (in a break in the rain) to prune my orchard I planted earlier this year.
Although there's 23 trees in there so far it didn't take long as all the trees are so young. I basically looked at each tree for disease or damage first.
|Woolly Aphid damage on a plum tree - can look a lot like canker|
Unfortunately I found some woolly aphid damage on a Victoria plum tree that I had transplanted over from my old allotment. This can easily be mistaken for canker but I could see the little buggers in there! I decided to cut away the affected wood as the tree is still young and I can train a new branch to replace it rather than having it grow weak. I also know that you're not really meant to prune stone fruit this time of year as it can encourage sliver leaf but as it was damage I decided to do it anyway.
|A bottom branch removed|
Once I removed that I then looked at the trees for shape and removed any branches that I thought were too low (I'm not talking many here as they haven't got many to take!) and then looked at the top of the tree and made sure they didn't have too many heading straight up, reducing or removing them if there was too many - this was only really in some of the two year old trees I bought. I'm aiming to have "polo" trees eventually - trees with a hole in the middle or goblet trees as people like to cal them.
|Cutting back a straight climbing leader|
Out of 23 trees I didn't even have a handful of twigs at the end but at least I'm starting how I mean to go on. Those fruit tree pruning course I did at Pershore college a few years ago were worth every penny.
Next weekend I'm going to tackle a mixed orchard I planted at my parents farm around 8 years ago, it's just starting to be really fruitful (if you'll excuse the pun) and I've been pruning the trees every year to produce the maximum amount of fruit.
Anyone else got plans with fruit this winter - I'm really looking forward to my 22 different sorts of apple trees being delivered.