Fruit tree cut - a guide with pictures

Fruit tree cut - a guide with pictures

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Those who regularly cut their fruit trees with a fruit tree can look forward to a more profitable harvest and healthy trees. You can find out which cutting measures do what and where you can make the cut correctly here.

If you bring fruit trees into the garden, you can not only look forward to fresh fruit of the best quality. Fruit trees are also a real ornament for the garden. However, you have to do a lot to ensure that the trees stay healthy and you can harvest plenty of fruit. The fruit tree pruning is particularly important because it lays the foundation for vigorous growth, abundant flower formation and, consequently, for a rich harvest. Anyone who thinks that one cut is enough when planting the fruit trees is extremely wrong. If you want to achieve a profitable harvest over many years, you have to cut your fruit trees from time to time. When and how you do it correctly, we will explain you in more detail below.


  • 1 Why do you have to cut fruit trees at all?
  • 2 What tools do I need to cut fruit trees?
    • 2.1 ❍ Bypass secateurs:
    • 2.2 ❍ Anvil pruning shears or pruning shears:
    • 2.3 ❍ Branch saw:
    • 2.4 ❍ Head:
  • 3 When is the right time to cut the fruit tree?
  • 4 How to prune fruit trees properly
    • 4.1 Explanation of terms
    • 4.2 Overview of phases of the pruning
  • Seal 5 cuts or not?
  • 6 What to do with the clippings?
  • 7 Further reading tips on this topic:

Why do you have to cut fruit trees at all?

Fruit trees need to be cut regularly for several reasons. On the one hand, cutting the fruit tree helps to keep the tree healthy. Because like so many other plants, pathogens such as e.g. Spread lice or mushrooms on the branches. Only those who remove the infected branches will ensure a healthy fruit plant.

Over time, however, some branches also become rotten. These branches then have to be removed, after all branches without flowers do not start to bear fruit. So it's time to make room for new and, above all, flowering branches. In this way you promote fruit formation. The same also applies to dead wood and wild shoots. These have to be removed to make room for new, healthy branches.

If you want to keep fruit trees healthy and harvest a lot of fruit, you have to use scissors regularly. Without the pruning measures, fruit trees would grow quite wild and would not bear much fruit.

What tools do I need to cut fruit trees?

The right tool is the be-all and end-all for cutting fruit trees. Because without the right tool, you cannot make clean cuts. In addition, the cutting measures otherwise become a, especially dangerous, effort. In principle, therefore, always make sure that all tools are sharp. This facilitates the cutting work and, moreover, clean interfaces generally close much faster. You also prevent fruit tree cancer from developing. Recommended tools for cutting fruit trees include:

❍ Bypass secateurs:

Depending on the branch thickness, different tools are required. For example, bypass pruning shears with roller handles are ideal for smaller and, above all, thin branches. It is constructed like conventional scissors with two cutting edges and is therefore recommended for the clean cutting of thin branches. The roller handle also ensures better handling.

❍ Anvil secateurs or pruning shears:

For somewhat thicker branches, however, the use of anvil pruning shears with a roller handle is recommended. It has only one cutting edge that hits a piece of metal with a little pressure. It is therefore ideal for cutting harder or dead branches.

Alternatively, you can use pruning shears. Here is one with a telescopic extension advisable, because you do not necessarily need a ladder for the cutting work. Such scissors with telescopic extension are also called cutting giraffes. They can be extended to a certain length and are equipped with a steel spring and a pull chain. In this way, you can cut fruit trees several meters high without having to use a lot of force.

❍ Branch saw:

If you need to remove a relatively large branch, it is best to use a branch saw. This is also available with a telescopic rod. However, some skill is required with this tool, because it is not that easy to use. So it's best to practice a little beforehand.

❍ Head:

If you can't handle tools with a telescopic handle so well, you have to climb the ladder to cut branches at height. Make sure you stand securely here and always cut the branches so that they do not fall on you.

When is the right time to cut fruit trees?

In addition to the technology, when it comes to fruit tree care, the timing is also important. If you want a rich harvest, cut in late spring or summer. This slows down the vigor of the tree and promotes the flowering. This is how the fruit boxes get full in autumn. For apple and pear trees, for example, hobby gardeners should use scissors in June and level out long shoots (see parenting cut). And because after the harvest is before the harvest, the upbringing follows again in late winter. Because only a tree that stays in shape will provide plenty of fruit again in the following year. The following applies only in frost: stay away from the scissors.

Below is a small overview of which fruit trees need to be cut:

Variety / month123456789101112

How to cut fruit trees properly


Before we get to the individual cutting measures, here is a brief explanation of the term so that you can understand everything better later:

❍ center drive:

The middle shoot is the shoot that forms the trunk extension.

❍ Lead drives:

Are shoots that arise from the central shoot at an angle between 45 ° and 90 °.

❍ Water shooter:

Also called water shoots, are unbranched long shoots that shoot up and do not have flower buds. They are always cut off directly on the old wood.

❍ juice scales:

The juice scales are created when you shorten all master drives to the same height.

Overview of phases of the pruning

As already mentioned, fruit trees are cut in a variety of ways. First of all, there is a cut that you have to make once and immediately after planting. Accordingly, this is also called planting. This is followed by the annual upbringing cut and later also the maintenance and rejuvenation cut. With these cutting measures you have to proceed as follows:

Planting section:

© 2017 Fiskars Group

What many do not know is that certain plants have to be cut straight after being planted in the garden. This also applies to fruit trees, for example. After planting, you should shorten strong shoots by half and weak shoots by a third. It is important that you pay attention to the so-called juice scales, i.e. shorten all master drives to the same height. You also have to shorten the middle drive. However, this should be 10 centimeters longer than the main drives.

In principle, the following applies: When cutting, always pay attention to buds that grow outwards. You can cut off the branches at an angle about five millimeters above these buds. You should cut thicker branches as close as possible to the branch.

Education section:

© 2017 Fiskars Group

You must then carry out the parenting cut from the second year of planting. The aim is to align the crown and thus ensure that the fruits receive more light and the harvest is generally much more productive. With this cut, remove shoots that grow parallel to the main shoots, cross or grow inwards. Also bring the crown's main drives back into the juice weigher. This way you ensure year after year that the fruit tree bears plenty of fruit and that diseases and pests have no chance.

Grade average:

© 2017 Fiskars Group

You do not have to carry out the maintenance cut in the first years of the tree. Only when the fruit tree is about 10 years old. This cut removes everything that hinders or even prevents a rich harvest. So speak shoots that

  • have grown inward
  • stand too close
  • hang low,
  • grow down to the ground
  • touch,
  • shoot vertically (water shooter),
  • have died.

After this cut, the tree should bear plenty of fruit again next year.

Rejuvenation pruning:

Over time you will notice that the harvest is getting smaller and smaller. Then at the latest it is time for a taper cut. This cut is about carefully aligning the fruit tree. To do this, first radically cut leading drives. Then you have to do everything that is necessary for the maintenance cut. In other words, remove dead, growing inward, touching, etc. branches.

The instructions in the video:

Part 2:

Seal cuts or not?

Many hobby gardeners use so-called wound protection agents, also called artificial bark, after cutting fruit trees. They then apply these to large cuts to prevent germs from entering the tree through the wounds. However, experts advise against this, as wound protection products can even have the opposite effect. Because if the artificial bark cracks, water can penetrate. And this in turn favors a fungal attack. So do without such means. Finally, trees can also heal themselves well thanks to the so-called callus, a natural wound tissue.

Where to put the clippings?

Do not simply dispose of the clippings on the compost. You can also chop it and then use it to cover beds. The pruning is then comparable to bark mulch, which is known to protect the soil from drying out and also to protect it from heavy rainfall. The green waste also prevents weeds from spreading. So you have much less to do in the garden. You can also make mulch from other materials. Here our contribution to using mulch correctly.

More reading tips on this topic:

❍ Cut peach tree - this is how it's done
❍ Cutting the quince tree - time & instructions for the cut
❍ Prune Tree Pruning - How To Do It Right
❍ Cut the cherry trees correctly