Pruning Fruit Trees In Summer: How To Do It

Pruning a fruit tree in the summer is becoming more and more important. This can stimulate the formation of flowers and ripening of fruit. With proper guidance, only a few cuts are necessary.

  • Summer pruning mainly in July /August
  • restricts shoot length growth
  • promotes fruit ripening
  • better wound healing
  • mainly thinning of the crown

Summer pruning has advantages


Summer pruning of fruit trees is becoming more and more common. When the fruit tree is in full leaf in the summer and fruit is formed, it is quite possible to courageously reach for the saw and shears. Pruning during this season brings several advantages:

  • Cessation of long shoot growth
  • stimulation of the formation of fruiting wood for the coming season
  • better ripening of the fruit
  • thus better quality of fruits
  • higher harvest yield possible
  • faster wound healing
  • better defense against bacterial and viral infections and fungal pathogens
Pruning Fruit Trees In Summer: How To Do It

Best time


When pruning fruit trees in summer, it is important to choose the right time. It should not be started too early. Longitudinal shoot growth must be completed. As a rule, the main shoot growth stops at the end of July with the formation of the terminal bud. At that time, a slight leaf coloration already occurs. This is when the nutrients are drawn from the leaves and used for fruiting. Now it time for summer pruning:

  • ideal time for pruning: July/August
  • postponement possible from the end of June to the beginning of September
  • completion by mid-September at the latest
  • then still enough time for wound healing
  • Prune on dry, cool, not too sunny days


Note: Fruit trees often form steeply upright growing shoots, so-called water shoots. These water shoots are removed as early as June during the June pruning. They are then simply torn off vertically downwards.

Pruning apple and pear trees


Pruning of apple and pear trees in the summer should be minor. It should be done in August. This mainly involves thinning out the crown so that enough light and air can get inside and the fruit can ripen well. In addition, the top can dry more easily and quickly after a rain and fungal diseases have little chance. First, however, you should check all the leading branches that form the foundation of the crown. If they are too dense, you can remove the branch in question.

The following is a brief guide to pruning:

  • Remove all leader branches that are too close together.
  • To do this, make a safety cut from below, a hand’s width from the trunk.
  • Then saw off the leading branch a little further in the outward direction.
  • Remove the remaining stub directly on the trunk down to the branch bulge with an angled cut.
  • Cut off all inward growing, too dense, crossing and diseased shoots at their base.
  • Now cut the ascending, vertically upward growing shoots down to the branch ring.
  • Then thinning out medium-thick apple shoots to a crown of 2 to 3 leaves at the attachment point (rosette pruning).
  • Already attached, long, vertical fruiting wood is shortened to two pairs of leaves (stub pruning).
  • Finally, remove all small shoots on the trunk (stub pruning).


However, no shortening of the fruit shoots should be done for late-maturing varieties. Otherwise, the fruits would be deprived of the basis of their nutrition. Their ripening will be slower and will take longer. Furthermore, when pruning fruit trees in summer, you should make sure that not too many shoots are removed. Otherwise, the supply of nutrients to the fruit is no longer fully guaranteed. Likewise, fruit hanging in the shade should not hang in full sun after pruning. Otherwise, they can quickly burn or sunburn.

Note: Sometimes in June fall not many immature fruits are shed from the tree itself, then it is necessary to pick at the end of June. Only one or two fruits should remain per fruit cluster. However, the tree must be in full yield for this. It is then usually 5 to 15 years old.

Summer pruning of morello cherries
With this cherry, the blossoms appear on the one-year-old wood. The shoots can become bare very quickly and hang down like whips. You can prune this fruit tree in summer after harvest.

  • divert three quarters of the whip shoots to newly sprouted side shoots
  • to do this, set pruning just above new shoots
  • leave one quarter of the whip shoots standing
  • cut back harvested fruiting shoots severely
  • shorten one-year-old shoots to 20 to 25 cm
  • leave only three one-year-old shoots per 10 cm length of the leading branch
  • remove remaining young shoots
  • cut out shoots that grow too steeply upright, too densely, inwards and crossing each other
  • remove oldest leading branch every 2 to 3 years except for branch ring
  • Prune sweet cherries

Fruiting occurs only on two- to three-year-old shoots. Pruning is generally done in late summer or after harvest. Here is a brief instruction on how to do this:

  • Cut back long side shoots except for one upwardly protruding eye.
  • remove all inward, steeply upward growing and thin shoots at base
  • cut out old and not fruit-bearing wood
  • cut back hanging shoots above a new side shoot
  • cut off competing shoots on the middle stem at the point of attachment
  • leave short shoots with whorled buds on the tree


If there are already a large number of overhanging branches, rejuvenation pruning is absolutely necessary. However, you should only remove branches with a diameter of up to five centimeters for this purpose. Otherwise, it can quickly develop a so-called gum flow in which the tree abs a resinous, sticky, amber liquid.

Pruning plums


Already in June, all water shoots must be uprooted with the June pruning. Pruning is then carried out regularly in August, but very cautiously.

Pruning Fruit Trees In Summer: How To Do It
  • remove all inward, too dense, steeply upright growing shoots at base
  • Cut back all three-year-old and older fruiting branches just above two-year-old shoots
  • cut back competing shoots to cones
  • alternatively derivation to two year old side shoot
  • side shoot should bear flower buds
  • cut off thin side shoots before new young shoots appear


Note: Always use sharp tools such as secateurs or saws for pruning. You should carefully disinfect them with alcohol before and after use.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between summer and winter pruning?

Summer pruning on fruit trees restricts shoot growth. In contrast, winter pruning stimulates shoot growth in the new growing season.

How often should a fruit tree be pruned back?

This always depends on the particular fruit variety. As a rule, however, fruit trees are pruned twice a year. Pruning is done in winter and in summer. This guarantees a larger harvest.

Why is it important to prune fruit trees regularly?

Regular pruning has the effect of a better harvest and the fruit is of better quality. Without pruning, a fruit tree will not be very vital over time and will be extremely susceptible to disease. The harvest will be low and the fruit will be small, as branches that are dense and grow into the interior of the crown will not allow light and air to reach them.

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