When Should A Plum Tree Be Pruned
Edward R. Forte
October 20, 2021
Pruning is a very important part of proper fruit tree care, but many people find the task overwhelming.You can have confidence in knowing that not everyone will prune the exact same way (even the experts).There are three main reasons you should prune your tree: its survival, stimulation and shaping.For a complete background on how to grow plum trees, we recommend starting from the beginning.In addition, cutting the tree back stimulates stronger, more vigorous growth from the remaining buds.Narrow, V-shape crotches are an open invitation to disastrous splitting later on, particularly when your tree is ripening with a large bumper crop.Make sharp, clean cuts close enough so that you won’t leave a clumsy stub that’s hard to heal over.Since you want vigorous new growth to spread away from the center of the tree, make your cut above a bud that’s aimed outward.Select and maintain three to five main scaffold limbs arising from the trunk to control the shape of the tree.If for some reason the primary scaffold branches could not be selected the previous season, they may be chosen at this time.Avoid cutting (heading) the main scaffold branches unless necessary to maintain balance in the tree.If one scaffold branch dominates the tree, it should be headed back to a size proportionate with the others.Prune European Plum Trees to a Central Leader Shape.This type of tree has a pyramidal shape with a single upright leader limb as its highest point.This leader is the newest extension of a long, upright growing trunk from which all lateral branches arise.If a branch is broken by the wind or by a heavy load of fruit, emergency treatment is necessary.Prune back the ragged edges; making a smooth cut that leaves no stubby stump.The best time to thin Japanese plum trees is when the fruit is large enough to be easily picked. .
How to Prune Overgrown Plum Trees
The answer to that question is simple, prune your plum tree when it's growing strongly and for established plum trees early June to mid July is the best time.prune it in winter /spring because the risk of fungal infection is high and don't prune it in autumn because the leaves are needed by the tree to transfer nutrients to it as they die.Established plum trees are all very different in shape, size and structure which means that one set of absolute rules can't be applied to them all.The reason for this is that although plum trees withstand neglect better than many fruit trees they can be put at risk from bacterial and other infections if you don't carry out pruning correctly.For larger stems and branches use a pruning saw.Read our guidelines on pruning techniques for plum trees at the end of this page to help you inflict the least possible damage possible on your plum tree when you prune it.Remove some side branches / stems which grow in the centre of the tree.Prune lower branches so that main stems and branches which turn downwards are cut to be at least parallel with ground, preferably growing upwards and outwards.This section explains how to prune a branch, the same rules apply to plum trees and other fruit trees.The principle is to avoid damaging the collar of the branch and to make a clean cut which doesn't tear the bark.Cut downwards (in the direction of the arrow) through the branch trying to support it as you cut.Water sprouts are quick growing shoots which grow straight upwards. .
How & When to Prune a Plum Tree
PickMarin.org points out that by pruning in June when the tree is actively growing, you'll best avoid the growth of silver leaf disease (Chondrostereum purpureum), which is a fungal disease that can spread from one tree to another.These four branches are known as the plum tree’s “scaffold whorl.” This pruning forms the tree’s structure.In the tree’s second year, cut back each branch of the scaffold whorl to 10 inches and prune back the main stem by up to 18 inches.In the third year you’ll want to create additional scaffold whorls, removing branches until there are 18 to 24 inches of space between each whorl.Strategy for Pruning Plum Trees. .
How To Prune A Plum Tree For Better Harvests
One summer you will harvest buckets and bowlfuls of the sweetest purple gems, the next year just a few sad, bitter, wrinkly little things.Give yourself quite a few seasons of close observation and jot down your findings in a notebook, so that you too, can follow the rhythms of nature.One simple step that often goes missing is this: prune your fruit trees on a dry, sunny day.Silver leaf disease is categorized by the leaves of the plum tree taking on a silvery sheen in summer and the above fungi appears on the wood once it dies.Bacterial cankers in plum trees is categorized by sunken, dead and oozing areas of bark as shown in the image above.Use the proper tools for the right girth and density of wood, and your pruning job will be easy and enjoyable.Never leave an odd branch sticking out in hopes that it will bear fruit – cut it out entirely to prevent disease.As you reach up into the higher branches with the help of a ladder, or another creative way, you will be trimming back the shape of the tree.This process of “heading back” will help keep the branches from snapping under the weight of future fruit production.Make sure to clean your pruners and other hand tools as well, to prevent spreading diseases, by dipping the blades into a solution of isopropyl alcohol for about 30 seconds before moving onto the next tree.Pruning your plum tree helps to balance out the branch structure and give it a characteristic shape.Other times, you may just need to remove lower branches to mow under the tree, or to prevent it from scraping against a house or outbuilding.Trees that become too tall are difficult to harvest from without a ladder, and in the case of plums, the branches are not strong or pleasant enough to climb in (think of the often serious size thorns).Branches that spread too wide, perhaps from lack of sunlight, will weaken when laden with heavy fruit.Or else, nature will show you what the right size is for any particular tree, when those heavily loaded branches snap off from the rest.Whatever you choose, just do not underpin branches, limbs with Y-stakes, because these send wrong weight distribution signals to the tree, which may lead to weak growth as years go by.At the same time, allowing sufficient airflow helps to remove excess moisture, reducing the chance of fungal infections that plums are prone to.Clipping back the ends of branches will stimulate new growth, increasing your chances of a wonderful fruit harvest next season. .
How to Prune Plum Trees
In general any time from late spring to the end of July is the risk free time to prune your plum tree.See pruning a one year tree below for more details.See pruning a one year tree below for more details.The majority of shoots growing into the centre of the tree are pruned away completely and those growing outwards are hard pruned to encourage more growth this and next year.In many cases though, only two main branches will come at the correct height.Another main branch should then be left to grow from the original two branches (see branches 3 and 4 in diagram).If you prune your plum tree at the correct time of year (see section above) you will be pruning your plum tree when the fruit has already started to form.This will lead you into the temptation of under-pruning it to avoid cutting off fruit bearing shoots and stems.The three diagrams below explain how to prune a plum tree in years one, two and three.First year pruning is very easy, simply prune back the stem to about 1m / 3ft high in early to late March (see below for why at this time of year).You want at least two branches to form from the main stem and these will come from buds clearly visible.So in year one you may want to prune the main stem slightly higher so that a promising bud or two, in the correct position, is left on the main stem.So we can get the timings correct for year two and three pruning, let's assume you plant your new, one year old tree in January 2017 and pruned it for the first time in March 2017.You bought and planted a two year old tree in winter (example date January 2017) and wish to prune it for the first time in mid June 2018.During the pruning cut the shoots and branches to an outward facing bud to try and achieve the goblet shape with a clutter free central part.Third year pruning is the same as second year pruning.Cut the shoots and branches to an outward facing bud to try and achieve the goblet shape with a clutter free central part.Once again, prune away shoots growing into the centre of the tree to keep it relatively open.In years one to three the above recommendations do show significant pruning in order to establish a good basic shape for the future but very few plum trees will produce fruit in their first three years of life so almost no fruit will be pruned away.Some pruning of the lower shoots is recommended to keep the centre of the tree open and if those inward growing stems are bearing fruit then a small number of fruits will indeed be pruned away.To create a cordon shaped fruit tree you need to prune several times a year and also at several points on the stem.Plum trees require very little care throughout their life (aside from a yearly pruning) but will produce of their best if you thin the fruit, mulch the surrounding ground and give them an annual feed.The best time to thin plum tree fruit in your area is mid June 2017.A mulch with any organic matter around the base of tree each spring will go a long to providing these conditions.If you have no organic material to hand then think again, a mulch of grass cuttings will do the job very well. .
Keep Plum Trees Healthy and Productive With Summer Pruning
These issues are heartbreaking when they occur, but the good news is they can usually be avoided by carefully performing one simple annual maintenance task: summer pruning.Silver leaf disease can affect other fruits such as apples and cherries, as well as some other trees and shrubs, but it is most usually associated with plums.In autumn and winter, spores of Chondrostereum purpureum may infect trees through wounds, so it’s important to avoid pruning at this time.It’s harder for the trees to resist the disease in winter, so again summer pruning is the safer option.Sunken, dead and often oozing areas of bark will become apparent from spring and early summer, and shoots may die back.They look like they’ve been used for shotgun target practice, giving the disease its alternative name of ‘shothole’ (careful how you say it!It’s not uncommon on plums and related plants, and in the absence of the distinctive dead, sunken patch it’s likely due to other less serious issues, such as stress or a wound.Make sure your tools are sharp and sturdy enough for the job; hand pruners can be used for very small twigs, but anything larger calls for loppers or a saw.If you see signs of silver leaf, cut well beyond the area where the dark stain shows in the centre of the wood to make sure that no trace of the fungus remains.This used to be the recommendation, but best practice nowadays is to leave pruning wounds open to ‘bleed’ and heal naturally. .
How to Prune Plum Trees
It can become about 15 feet tall and should start to produce fruit three to five years after it is first planted.There are two other reasons for Northern gardeners to select a European plum tree (rather than a Japanese plum tree) besides lower maintenance.Even European plum trees need some pruning to achieve the best harvest possible.Why You Should Prune Plum Trees.It is when a plum tree is young that you have to pay the most attention to pruning it in such a way as to create a framework of branches conducive to the tree's long-term health, to the production of well-formed fruit, and to ease of harvesting that fruit.When to Prune Plum Trees.There are specific reasons for the timing of pruning young trees in early spring: It stimulates the formation of new branches at the outset of the growing season, giving them the best chance to grow substantially that year, and the wounds made will have less time to heal before the tree starts to grow vigorously in spring, during which period the tree's healing powers are at their highest and small wounds heal relatively quickly.The concern here over healing especially regards to a fungal disease to which plums are susceptible, known as "silver leaf" (Chondrostereum purpureum). .
When is the right time to prune a plum tree? Ask an expert
Advice from OSU Extension Service and Master Gardeners.To ask a question, simply go to the OSU Extension website and type in a question and the county where you live.Here are some questions asked by other gardeners.Should plum trees be pruned in spring, fall or winter?Q: When is the best time to prune a 20-year-old plum tree?This tree has not produced fruit for many years.Plum trees are susceptible to diseases that have the potential to be more problematic when pruning is done in wet weather.Santa Rosa is an excellent pollinator that would work for Friar, which blooms in mid-season (pollination among varieties is mostly a function of making sure they bloom at the same time).The yucca grows from the seeds it disperses and from rhizomes.If you dig out the rhizomes (roots) you still have the seeds that have been dropping for all of the years the plant has been growing at the location you are trying to clear.At this time of year, it would be best to clear the plant material above the surface, and as much of the rhizome as you can dig out.Smooth the surface and place heavy black plastic or cardboard over the area you want to clear.An herbicide produced for eradicating yucca can be purchased at one of the local nurseries.What's making those oak trees sparkle?It's also worth noting there are a few dozen of these oak trees and they all have these lights.If you haven’t seen the lights again then these suggestions can probably be ruled out.– Lauren Grand, OSU Extension forestry expert. .