Winter in the Orchard

Winter Pruning at Woodward & Leiter/Oppliger Orchards


Leiter / Oppliger Orchard

Our Winter Pruning Workshop on Feb. 21, 2015, conducted by Dr. Bob Norton and arborist, Michelle Ramsden, was a great success!  Weather cooperated as we observed, then participated in the pruning of several large, older apple trees at the orchard of VIFC President, Anne Woodward.  Not soon to be forgotten was Dr. Bob’s “girdling” technique on a bare branch, as well as, the chain sawing of major height out of an 80 year old apple tree of unknown variety by several of the men.   Then down the street at Nan Leiter & Ina Oppliger’s orchard, we gained valuable experience pruning young fruit trees, blueberries & cane fruits.  Here we learned how to create a ladder bay and what to do about pruning a “porcupined” fruit tree.   Another gem picked up from Dr. Bob was his statement about applying Nitrogen in June only if there had been less than 12″ of new growth the previous year.  And that Phosphorous & Potassium are generally not needed on Vashon due to our soils.

If you missed the workshop, at our next meeting you may pick up “Dr. Bob Norton’s 10 Steps for Winter Pruning Apple Trees” on a nifty laminated card for $1.  But, here are the steps if you need them sooner:

1.  Read the tree for vigor and fruiting potential.

2. Remove suckers from the base & ground.

3. Remove shaded lower branches.

Michelle Ramsden (right) & the club at the Leiter/Oppliger Orchard

4. Consider creating a ladder bay (for pruning, light penetration and harvesting).

5. Remove surplus and/or crossing branches.

6. Cut back “hangers” – branches that dip below the horizontal.

Dr Bob & Nan Leiter

7. Cut branches with excess spurs to half their length.

8. Top of tree – reduce height (if applicable).

9. Remove watersprouts (follow up in late Spring).

10. Step back and evaluate the tree for balance.

Happy Pruning!

Dr. Bob Norton and his namesake apple cultivar, “Norton”