Winter Fruit Tree Pruning
Posted by Eytan Navah, Gardener
As we approach the close of winter, the buds on the dormant fruit trees dotting the Lynmar landscape are beginning to swell. Soon the buds will open to beautiful pink and white flowers, calling in the bees to pollinate and give fruit. Before the buds break, however, the garden team is taking the time to prune the various fruit trees on the Estate. Pruning is essential to yielding high-quality fruit. It develops a strong tree framework to support fruit production, opens up the canopy to allow for more sunlight and air circulation, and removes any dead or diseased limbs. Additionally, pruning extends the life of the tree and gives it aesthetic appeal. Each fruit tree is pruned differently depending on the variety and the end goal of the tree’s form and use.
Apple and Pear Trees
Apple and Pear trees tend to be very long-lived, sometimes living over 100 years. Without regular pruning, an apple tree has the potential to become very large. Just think how difficult it would be to harvest an apple or pear 20 feet up in the canopy. For this reason, we limit the annual growth of the tree in order to keep it at a reasonable size for picking fruit. When pruning the tree in the winter, we cut back last year’s growth to no more than three buds, or about two to three inches. This not only limits the growth, but also concentrates the fruit production low on the branches. We want to develop fruit spurs on all the wood, in order to avoid unproductive, blank wood. When new growth is left alone too long, there is the potential to lose productive fruiting lower on the branches. Depending on the particular tree, we will prune it to develop a framework. Some of our trees have an open canopy or vase shaped style, while others have a central leader or a more pyramid shaped look. This all depends on preferred style. Some apple tree varieties at Lynmar include: Fuji, Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, Pink Pearl, and Liberty. The pear tree varieties we grow include D’anjou, Bartlett, Red D’anjou, Flemish Beauty, Bosc, Comice, Duchess Pear, Don Juan, and Asian Pears like Shinseiki, 20th Century, Korean Giant and, Kukusui.
Peach and Nectarine Trees
At Lynmar we also have a good variety of peach and nectarine trees scattered throughout the Tasting Room Garden and up by the Seed Barn. If you visited here last year in July you would have seen and hopefully tasted the abundance of peaches hanging on our trees. Peaches are different than apples and pears because they are not as long lived. Peaches tend to be susceptible to fungal infections and live from 12 years to a maximum of 30 years. Since they are not as long-lived, we take a different approach to pruning them. We allow for more annual growth and we do a lot of thinning out of diseased limbs. We select for strong branches that can hold the heavy fruit and create an open canopy/vase shaped look for optimal air circulation. We prune off any “suckers” or vertical branches that take away energy from the more productive fruiting branches. Some peach varieties here at Lynmar are Indian Free, Yellow Cling Free, Loring, Snow Beauty, Red Haven. Our nectarine varieties include Royal Blenheim and Arctic Jay.
We have a number of Plum trees on the property as well. Plums prefer summer pruning, so in this time of year we hold off and enjoy the early white blooms that begin to open by the end of February. Varieties of plums we grow include Santa Rosa, Elephant Heart, Satsuma, and Burgundy.
Other fruit trees we grow at Lynmar include fig, Meyer lemon, quince, pineapple guava, and cherry.
With the proper pruning, good weather and pollination, the Lynmar trees will provide an abundance of fruit throughout the summer and fall seasons perfectly complementing to our exceptional wines.