Pruning Columnar Apple Trees?


“I bought columnar apple trees a few years ago. This year they had a few branches come off the main stem. Should I prune the branches, leaving only the main stem, or are branches good to keep around for more fruit? If I should prune them, is fall the best time or should I wait until spring. Thanks.

David in Denver”

______________________________________________________


Hi David,

Thank you for contacting us in regards to your columnar apple tree. The
tree should have small branches coming off of it. These branches are called
“spurs” and are where your blossoms and fruits will form. After a spur has
produced for a few years, it will naturally die back and fall off. More
spurs will continue to grow as the tree matures and has the potential to
bear more fruit.

Columnar Apple Tree

I hope this information helps you out. If you have any other questions,
please feel free to ask.

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3 thoughts on “Pruning Columnar Apple Trees?

  1. Thanks for the info. I’m glad I didn’t prune anything. I am a bit curious – my spurs are about 1-2 feet long (the tree is about 6 ft. tall now). You mention short spurs, but I assume it’s ok that they are a bit longer, right?

    • Yes, a bit longer is okay too. This is usually a result of the plant doing very well.

      It’s kind of like how you can tell what a year was like by looking at a pine tree (unpruned). On the main trunk, there will be either a small or large space (internode) between the sets of branches. If it is a large gap, it was a good year for the tree with plenty of water and nutrients. If small, then there was not enough water or nutrients.

      The same can be equated to a columnar apple tree. Having a year with lots of water and nutrients will result in branches that are a foot or two long. However, lets say you have a year with some stress – maybe you have some bugs attack the tree or it has a couple times where it dries out a bit. Then you would see that the branches would be shorter – only a few inches long.

      In terms of apple tree branches, 1-2 feet is relatively short. I apologize for the confusion I may have caused by not describing it more. On average, a columnar branch is in about the 1-foot long range.

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