Pruning Old Apple Trees

I have an old orchard containing some apple trees about 40 years

old - trees well shaped but with plenty of main branches and limbs all

very long. The trees bear profusely in alternate years but the fruit is

small. In pruning would you advise cutting out some main limbs where

there are over three or four and thus making a big wood reduction (where

sunburn protection can still be guarded) or would you only shorten in

the branches and thin the fruit severely?

Do not remove main branches unless they are clearly too numerous or have

been allowed to grow to interference with each other or have become

weakened or feeble in some way. In such cases the space is worth more

than the branch. If the tree has a fair framework do not disturb it in

order to get down to an arbitrary limit of three or four main branches;

sometimes the tree can carry more. If the tree is too thick, thin it out

by removing side branches of more or less size - saving the best,

judging by both vigor and position. Work through the whole top in this

way until you reach the best judgment you can form of enough space and

light for good interior foliage and fruit. Apple branches should seldom

be shortened, and when this seems desirable, cut to a side branch and

not to a stub which will make a lot of weak shoots or brush in the top

of the tree.

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