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When to prune that tree

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 | Posted by

Correct/Incorrect pruning methods. Courtesy Clemson Cooperative Extension

By SUZIE RODRIGUEZ / Sonoma Valley Correspondent

When, exactly, should you prune a tree? Some people say it should be done in the dead of winter, others insist on autumn, and quite a few swear by spring or summer.

Paul Kolling, founder/owner of Nana Mae’s Organics—a man who tends more than 400 acres of apple trees all over Sonoma County, in orchards that range from half an acre to 30 acres in size—has the correct answer.

“You can prune at any time of year,” he said, “depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Here are two pruning tips from Kolling:

  1. If you have a tree with big suckers at the base or in the middle of the tree, cut them back in summer. Pruning in winter has an invigorating effect on a tree, causing suckers to grow rapidly back. In summer, growth slows down, making it the perfect time to cut back on suckers.
  2. For evergreens such as olive and citrus trees, leaves are always feeding the tree whether it’s winter or summer. So if you prune heavily at any one time, you’re affecting the tree’s ability to feed itself. With that kind of tree you want to prune more lightly, doing it more often throughout the year instead of all at once.

Kolling will be teaching two workshops (Beginners and Advanced) through the Sonoma Ecology Center this Saturday (1/28) on pruning trees. Both workshops are being held in Sonoma Garden Park. The Beginner’s workshop runs from 9-11:30 a.m, and the Advanced workshop is 12-3 p.m.

Kolling will demonstrate proper pruning and care techniques for apple, pear, peach and other fruit trees, oversee a hands-on portion, answer questions, and more. 19996 Seventh Street East, Sonoma. Fee: $10/members, $15/non-members. Information: 996-0712 x.113 or write megan@sonomaecologycenter.org.

Nana Mae Organics produces pear juice, two kinds of apple juice (gravenstein and an heirloom blend), and four kinds of apple sauce. Their products can be found in Sonoma Valley at Fresh, Oakmont Market, Kenwood Market, Sonoma Market, El Molino Centrale, Estate, girl + the fig, El Dorado Kitchen, Hopmonk Brewery, Morton’s Warm Springs (in summer), and other locations. To learn more, visit nanamae.com.

  • dan

    Thanks, I have been wondering. I have an espaliered apple tree – will have to look it iup – as well as citrus and others. New house owner.

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Dianne Reber Hart is our Sonoma correspondent.

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