A light chop every year keeps them happy and fruiting.
You don’t have to prune apple trees, but in order to keep them to a manageable size, healthy and producing fruit, it’s advisable to carry out some pruning. By pruning lightly every year you can easily keep the tree to size and you’ll get fruit every year. As well as winter pruning, which is done in the dormant season, you can also lightly prune in late summer to reduce new growth and encourage fruit buds to develop.
However, at this time of the year when the tree is totally dormant, we can do structural pruning to maintain the shape and size of the tree and to keep a good balance of older branches that form the main framework, and new fruiting wood. The aim is to produce a tree that has an open centre to increase air circulation and reduce fungal diseases, with a framework of evenly spaced branches that will produce blossom and fruit this year and every year.
Don’t be tempted to prune off too much as that will result in vigorous growth and fewer or no fruits. Carefully prune to thin out crowded branches and any thin twiggy branches in the centre of the tree. Prune a little, stand back to look at the shape and balance before pruning out any more – and don’t rush!