Apple Tree Pruning: Winter Or Summer

Apple Tree Pruning: Winter Or Summer

Apple trees are a popular fruit tree among gardeners and preppers alike. To ensure that your apple trees produce the best fruit, pruning is essential. But when is the best time to prune your apple trees, in winter or summer? In this post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of pruning apple trees in both seasons, as well as provide tips for successful pruning.

Winter Pruning

Winter pruning is typically done when the tree is dormant, between late autumn and early spring, depending on your climate. Pruning during this time allows you to see the tree’s structure and remove any dead or damaged wood, as well as shape the tree for optimal growth.


1. Better Visibility: In winter the leaves of the apple tree have fallen off making it easier to identify defective points on branches and also to branch structures clearly without any obstruction.

2. Disease Prevention: Winter pruning can help to manage some diseases and pests. Removing the infected branches also prevents the disease from spreading to other healthy parts of the tree.

3. Improved Light and Ventilation: Apple trees require light and air circulation to grow nutritious fruit that is less prone to disease. Winter pruning helps to remove crossing branches and unwanted growth, providing more light and better airflow.


1. Risk of Winter Injury: Winter pruning runs the risk of exposing living tissue to frost, resulting in cold injury or frost damage to the tree. To avoid this, pruning should be done in dry weather and cold temperatures should not be too extreme.

2. Delay in Fruit Production: Pruning in winter may make apple trees slower to produce fruit as the cuts may affect the growth of next year’s fruiting spurs.

3. Over Pruning: Over-pruning in winter can make the tree more susceptible to infection or external attack by pests and diseases.

Summer Pruning

Summer pruning involves the removal of new shoots and fruitlets from the current year’s growth, from late spring to early autumn depending on your climate. Summer pruning helps to keep the tree in shape, prevent overly vigorous growth and improve fruit quality.


1. More Control: The branches of the apple tree have not hardened off yet, making them much easier to manipulate, to shape into the desired look.

2. More Fruiting Spurs: Summer pruning helps to encourage the tree to develop more fruiting spurs that blossom the following year.

3. Reduced Risk of Disease Spread: Pruning in summer helps to remove new shoots before they produce fruit, reducing the overall fruit load, hence it reduces a spread of pests and disease.


1. Limited Visibility of Tree Shape: In summer, the tree is covered in foliage, making it challenging to see the structure of the tree and identify any defects.

2. Risk of Overdoing It: Due to the limited visibility of the tree structure, it’s easy to over-prune, creating more internal shading which wastes energy produced by the tree.

3. Sunburn: If strong new growth is pruned in summer leaving fruit exposed to the sun, it can lead to sunburned fruit which isn’t pleasant to eat.

Tips for Successful Pruning

No matter which season you choose to prune your apple trees, there are some tips you can follow to ensure successful pruning:

1. Use sharp and clean quality pruning tools.

2. Remove any water sprouts or suckers.

3. Remove any crossing, dead, or broken branches.

4. Shape according to the required structure of the tree for best growth.

5. Don’t over-prune, take only one-third of the tree at a time.

6. If pruning in summer, remove no more than one-third of the current season’s growth.

7. Apply pruning paste to any open wound left after the cut, to prevent infections.


Pruning your apple trees is essential to promote good health and fruit production. Choosing whether to prune in winter or summer depends on factors like the tree’s age and vigour, health status, and previous pruning. Winter pruning has the benefit of better visibility and disease prevention, whereas summer pruning has the advantage of more control and more fruiting spurs. With the right pruning techniques, you can ensure your apple trees produce the best fruit they can!