Pruning and Training Cherry and Plum Trees

Unlike apple and pear trees, the best time to prune cherry and plum trees is late spring, after the trees have flowered. At this point, you can see how pruning will affect your crop.

You can train young cherry and plum trees as central leader trees, as described for apples and pears (see the steps beginning on page 28). Or you can train them as open-center (vase-shaped) trees (see "Pruning and Training Peaches," next page). Perhaps the best way is somewhere in between, as a modified central leader tree.

Weak unions between the rootstock and the scion cultivar are common with most cultivars of sweet cherry. To prevent damage, stake young trees using an elastic tie to prevent canker formation where the tie contacts the tree.

Training a tree as a modified central leader is similar to training a central leader tree, except that after you've selected four or five good scaffold limbs with wide crotch angles where they meet the leader, you top the central leader.

After this initial training, cherry and plum trees need few corrective cuts during the next five or six years or until the trees begin bearing. During this time, limit pruning to removing water sprouts and limbs that cross and rub

After initial training, cherry and plum trees require less pruning than other fruit trees.

against a permanent branch. Also, prune to prevent the development of narrow crotches that could split and ruin the shape of the tree when it bears a crop. A narrow crotch is a fork where two branches of equal length and diameter arise at a common point. Generally, you can simply remove one of the branches of a narrow crotch.

Cherry and plum trees that have had proper corrective pruning from the beginning need little if any pruning during their early bearing years. But overpruning during the formative years delays bearing.

Once mature, cherry and plum trees require the least pruning of all fruit trees. They bear fruit on spurs in two- to six-year-old wood, so prune to maintain bearing wood in these age classes. When pruning, also observe the following:

  • Remove dead, broken, or diseased branches.
  • To keep the tree from growing too tall, head back leaders to a strong lateral branch.
  • Thin out branches to provide good light exposure to remaining limbs.
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  • johanna
    When to prune mulberry trees?
    7 years ago

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