Backyard fruit pruning workshop hosted by Cooperative Extension

Published 7:18 pm Friday, February 14, 2014

By Mallory Kelley | Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Although there may not be much landscape work to do during the winter, February can be considered an important and critical time for taking care of fruit crops. Pruning your fruits in February each year will ensure healthy plants and increased production and fruit quality.

A Backyard Fruit Pruning Workshop hosted by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System will be held from 9-11 a.m. on Feb. 25 at Gaines Smith’s orchard, located at 2228 County Road 40 West in Billingsley.

The fee to attend is $5, and pre-registration is required for all participants.

To sign up or for more information, call the Autauga County Extension office at (334) 361-7273.

Pre-registration is required by Feb. 21.

Once fruit trees and small fruits have been planted, training must begin. Since fruits are being grown for the production of food, all growth must be pruned properly to maximize production and to ensure the plant is strong enough to hold the weight of the fruit. Young plants are typically pruned and trained for the first several years primarily to develop the plants’ proper shape and size. Once flowering and fruiting begins and is allowed, usually in the third or fourth year, some additional pruning is done to help prevent the breakage of limbs.

For established fruit trees, the first pruning cuts should be to remove any sucker growth that may have sprouted below the graft. Next, all diseased and damaged wood is taken out. Then as you look at the fruit tree, cut out all growth that crosses or rubs other branches. And since fruit develops where it gets adequate sunlight and air circulation, areas that are thick in growth or crowded must be thinned or opened up to allow more light and air movement.

More information and hands-on demonstrations of training and pruning techniques will be taught at the upcoming workshop for the public.

Fruits to be discussed: muscadine grapes, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, citrus, figs and even kiwi.