I seem to prune my apple trees every few months during the growing season. This year I tried to keep it to the Summer Solstice, (around June 20th). But the trees are now so bushy with watersprouts and little crossing sideways branches, that I couldn't help myself and pruned back a few of the trees. Now you can see the shape of the tree, there's lots of light and air getting to the middle. It's a lot of work pruning this much though. I wonder what other people with apple trees do?
Interested & following this topic. In VA, I've done the vast majority of pruning in early March w/ the exception to suckers/water sprouts near the base that I prune when I see them.
As a Life Member of this organization, having toured more orchards than I can count, I met maybe two or three home orchardists who’d discovered and practiced the art of Summer Pruning. I suspect there’s info somewhere online, but we seemed to look forward to figuring it out ourselves, though were eager to share our thoughts and experiences.
With that, it remains a goal of mine.
I have been known to snap off water shoots or suckers during the growing season; the wounds appear to heal almost instantly, it leaves a few less suckers to cut when dormant, and obviously allows more sunlight and air-movement within the canopy. I’ve seen sun-scald occur on limbs that were too exposed, though, so went a bit easy due to that.
I'll "tip pinch" too, to force energy into another stem, yet leave a shortened array of energy producing & limb shading leaves, though no longer competing with other stems.
What fascinates me is the concept of causing desired tip growth, in order to create more fruit spurs or buds, due to well timed & placed tip pruning during the growing season. I’d begun to play with that at a former orchard. Now, with 5 year-in trees, I’m more so encouraging height and structure than fruit production. But soon..
As mentioned, there were few folks knowledgeable or experienced enough to even discuss this back in the Willamette Valley. But disrupting growth suppressing hormones, encouraging tip spreading, off-setting biennial bearing, and reducing winter pruning all seemed worthwhile goals.
As long as you’re not leaving limbs vulnerable to sunscald, or reducing necessary tip growth, energy production and storage, summer pruning is no doubt beneficial. It’s likely going to be more specific to individual trees (or cultivars), considering their natural growth habit and vigor. But if done carefully, cutting edge work