January normally runs through low temperatures and it is the appropriate time of the year when your apple and pear trees will need winter pruning.

It’s still possible to tell the difference between the plump, rounded flower buds and the slim, pointed leaf buds.

Once buds begin to swell it’s much harder to tell them apart and this is why it is the most appropriate period for pruning these trees. However, pruning is always done in clement weather, not in frost.

You must commence pruning by removing dying, diseased and dead wood and any branches that cross. Aim to create an open shape that allows light to ripen the fruit. This needs consideration and pruning should be a thoughtful, slow process tackled with the sharpest secateurs you own. Cuts are made to outward-facing buds so that the new growth heads either upwards or outwards, not into the tree.

A goblet shape with five branches is the desired form, but different varieties have different growth habits and they are grafted on to different root stocks, so always buy and take advice from a reputable fruit nursery.

Most apple varieties fruit on spurs held close to the wood and correct pruning aims to develop good spur systems. The technique is to shorten the leaders by a third, so that side shoots develop.

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