Pruning Fruit Trees In Summer: Here’s How!

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:28 pm

For fruit trees to grow healthy and bear a lot of fruit, they need to be cared for and pruned regularly. In addition to winter pruning, fruit trees also benefit from pruning in summer. We explain what you need to consider when pruning fruit trees in summer.

Unlike winter pruning, which is done while the tree is dormant, summer pruning is done on fruit trees while the tree is still in full sap.

Pruning Fruit Trees In Summer: Here's How!

Summer pruning of fruit trees ensures that the shoots do not grow unchecked and that the tree instead develops more fruiting wood for the coming year. The ideal time varies depending on the type of fruit tree.

Remember the rule of thumb: what can be removed with scissors is pruned in summer. Anything you would need a saw for is removed during winter pruning.
Summer pruning is a way to encourage fruit growth on the tree, increasing the yield of your fruit trees.

Important: Before summer pruning, first check to see if any birds are breeding in your fruit trees. If this is the case, keep summer fruit tree pruning to a minimum.

Summer fruit tree pruning for apple trees

The best time to prune apple trees in the summer is when the buds at the tips of the shoots are fully formed. Usually, this is in late July to early August.

In addition to regulating growth, pruning an apple tree in the summer has the advantage of allowing more light into the crown and providing the tree with more nutrients. This benefits the already formed fruit in the ripening process.

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Remove all shoots that are too dense, growing into the crown or vertically upwards.
Shoots of medium thickness are shortened with rosette pruning. This involves cutting the shoot to the leaf crown at the base. However, the leaf crown should remain.
Shoots that show fruiting wood at the base, but then have grown on with a water shoot, are clipped above the second or third leaf with stub pruning.

Cut back stronger, vertically growing branches to the branch ring.

Finally, remove any small shoots that grow directly from the trunk. They only cost the tree unnecessary nutrients.
You can carry out the so-called June pruning as early as in early summer: In June, you tear off the short shoots on the upper side of the branch, also known as water shoots or horny shoots, with a sharp jerk in the direction of the trunk. This prevents new water shoots from growing in the same place the next year.

For summer pruning on pear trees, you can follow the steps for maintenance pruning on apple trees.

What you need to consider when pruning fruit trees in winter, read here.

Summer pruning for plum trees

Unlike other stone fruit trees, when it comes to summer pruning for plums, regularity is more important than rabid pruning. The best time for summer fruit tree pruning for plums is mid to late September.

Thin out the crown in September by pruning back shoots that are too dense or growing into the crown.
Remove side shoots where necessary so that the crown can develop evenly.
As early as June, you can remove the water shoots that are still unwooded.
Early-maturing plum varieties can be pruned as early as mid-August to mid-September. Other stone fruit such as apricots or peaches can also be cut back in summer directly after harvesting.

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With stone fruit, be careful not to do summer pruning too late: From the end of September, trees find it harder to regenerate because they are already preparing for winter. As a result, pruning wounds do not heal as well, and infections and fungal diseases may occur.

Summer pruning of cherry trees: this is how to do it.

Summer fruit tree pruning for cherry trees slows down vigorous growth and prevents the tree from becoming overgrown. Maintenance pruning also helps to control diseases on cherry trees. The best time to prune cherry trees in the summer is mid to late August.

Preserve primarily branches that grow slightly upright.
Cut back shoots that grow downward or droop to within one scissor length above the fork with the base wood. This will encourage growth and fruit formation. If you do not want growth, cut the shoot back to the base.
Also remove any shoots that are growing strongly vertically during summer pruning for cherry trees.

Also cut back shoots that grow directly from the trunk. If you live in a region with low rainfall, you can prune the shoots back completely. In regions where there is a lot of rain, cut the shoots back to a stub ten inches long.
Maintenance pruning for cherry trees distinguishes between summer pruning for sweet cherries and for sour cherries. Sweet cherries grow more vigorously than sour cherries, but all cherry trees are very fast-growing.

Pruning Fruit Trees In Summer: Here's How!

Pruning sweet cherries in summer

When pruning sweet cherries in summer, the most important thing is to thin out the crown so that the fruits inside the crown also get enough light to ripen. Remove shoots growing vertically or into the crown as well as competing shoots at the base.

Important: The diameter of the removed branches should not exceed five centimeters, otherwise the cherry tree will react with gum flow.

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Sour cherries: How to prune the fruit tree

Many sour cherry varieties form fruit only on young shoots from the previous year. If these are not pruned regularly, fewer and fewer fruit-bearing shoots form over time and the harvest yield is reduced. At the latest when the long shoots of the sour cherry become bare and hang down, it is time for a summer pruning.

Cut back the top shoots to the base.

Cut side shoots back to a one-year-old branch or clip above a well-formed bud for a new shoot.
For sour cherry varieties that produce fruit on perennial branches, you can use summer pruning for plum trees as a guide.

Summer pruning can encourage your fruit trees to produce more fruit next year. However, when summer pruning, always take care not to damage bird nests or squirrel burrows.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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