It is a tricky balance, pruning stone fruit. The timing can be a challenge.
Pruning in the wrong season affects tree health but there is a way to have it all.
❄️ Pruning stone fruit in Winter is a bad idea.
If we prune in Winter, sure we can see bare branches, which is convenient, but infections can then easily get into cold wet open wounds, to leave your tree exposed and at risk of attack from even more pests and problems.
☀️ Pruning stone fruit in Summer is annoying.
Prune in Summer, and the sap flows freely and wound sites dry off, which heals them more quickly, protecting the tree from distress. Annoyingly though, it’s also the time the tree is in full leaf and you can’t see the branch structure as well.
…but there IS an answer 🍑👍😉
This is so simple it feels like cheating, haha.
🍑 TopTip #1: have it both ways and use winter to ‘mark’ the main branches to go with string, especially if you have some structural decisions to make. You’ll see the whole tree and make better decisions. Then, wait to cut them off in Summer when sap is flowing well. The cotton string lasts just fine to do the job, but not long enough to strangle the branch.
🍑 TopTip #2: if a damaged branch really does need to come off in Winter, remove it an inch or so away from the collar and paint wound with bitumen or acrylic paint to seal, then come back in Summer and retrim the same branch back to the collar (where it joins a large branch) to make a fresh wound WITHOUT painting so oxygen triggers accelerated healing.
In June, it is the perfect time to get out there and look at your stone fruit trees, make some decisions, and get that string working. Go team!
The other thing you can do for stone fruit trees in winter, if leaf curl is an issue for you, is spray them before buds burst with a Burgundy or Bordeaux mixture. Here is the most reliable recipe for those mixes I have found. We use the Burgundy mix every year. Here is southern Victoria, July is really the last chance to spray because Guling season arrives.
Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿