Why do fruit trees need pruning?

There are several reasons growers prune fruiting trees. Most fruit is formed on horizontal branches. By pruning the upright branches fruit spur development is enhanced on the lateral branches. Trees generally are alternate bearing, producing bumper crops one year and a smaller crop the next. Pruning reduces the amount of flower buds helping to spread the fruit production more evenly every year. This technique also leaves fewer buds which produce larger high quality fruit. Thinning the tree crown allows better light and air penetration making fruit ripen more evenly, and controlling disease organisms that thrive in damp conditions. Fruit tree pruning should be done in mid to late winter. This timing prevents spread of disease and allows good visibility of branch structure to make proper cuts. Fruit trees in an ornamental setting do not need to be severely pruned as in orchards. These trees can be selectively thinned to keep the trees form and still allow light to filter through. Fruit tree flowers make a fine spring show and are beneficial to honeybees. These trees also can provide good fruit to eat or preserve.