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How to prune a young apple tree

Pinned on September 9, 2012 at 12:13 am by Walter Parris

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Permaculture designer Chuck Marsh will teach you how to prune your baby apple tree. Feel free to visit us at


Find further data about pruning Apple Trees in the following book:


Book Description

Publication Date: March 1, 2011
This early collection on pruning apple trees includes articles that would be both expensive and hard to find in their first editions. It contains information on the stages and methods of pruning, along with details of the tools involved. This is a fascinating work and highly recommended for anyone interested in fruit tree cultivation. Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
Please leave a comment on how useful this book is :-)


tytynursery1 says:

Great informative video! Keep them coming! -Ty Ty Nursery

TheChuckMarsh says:

No, not really, unless they’re diseased.

justwired says:

hey i have a 12″ apple tree seedling is it nessary to remove any of the lower leaves

thelister4910 says:

I just planted two five foot tall apple trees in Central NY. Why would you recommend waiting until August to prune them? Why would you not want a flush of new growth on a young tree? Thanks for the really helpful video!

rafishe says:

Thanks Chuck…

steveorbit says:


TheAnge164 says:

Thank you. Very helpful. I’m still scared of stuffing up the tree as I only have the one, and at two years old it only has three scaffold branches, but I’ll give it ago. When winter comes.

cleaboy1 says:

Thanks. Really useful.

usefulplants says:

Where we are, in the mountains of North Carolina, we wait until late winter – just before the trees break dormancy, but after the last of the hard freezes, to avoid additional die-back. In your area, it probably doesn’t matter.

TexPR1 says:

This is a really great video! Thank you so much! I do have a question though. I would like to know if I need to wait until all of the leaves have fallen off of the apple tree. I just planted this tree this past spring. I live in Central Texas, Zone 8 and our weather has been really goofy this year. We had a freeze a few weeks ago and the past couple of days have been in the 80s. Also we had a sever drought this past summer.

TheChuckMarsh says:

I wanted to begin the development of another set of scaffold branches at that point on the tree’s trunk as well as to grow a more compact tree. —-chuck

sillysociety says:

Why did you prune the central leader 12″ instead of just letting it grow?

ambashells says:

thanks that was instructive and simple to understand – i have an allotment with several apple trees on it and they’re all over the place -i think i shall at least have a bit more idea of what i’m doing now – so thanks once again -chris

caseyhalone says:

is it best to wait until all the leaves have fallen off? its late sept now and they havent started turning color yet. I notice lots of my leaves have curled and have some type of bug eggs laid in them. should i be concerned? these trees were transplanted a year ago and are about 3 years old total. We are in North Idaho and can get some cold winters to be sure.

tsavage2 says:

Any pointers on how to prune a 10 year old apple tree that has NEVER been pruned before?? It’s shaped rather conical….growing straight up. Can I just go in and cut out the middle leaving the strongest 4 or 5 branches? I wanna get these two trees producing better. I am not sure what species of apple they are. Thanks in advance for any help.

ShellandMike1 says:

Amazing- I learnt more from your video than I have from flicking through three pruning books! So practical, thanks. I am now off to go and prune my 6 young apple trees :-)

usefulplants says:

This video discusses pruning in the late dormant season, which will influence the new spring growth, so that’s a good time to prune young trees. Early August is another good time to prune, especially for older trees, because the tree won’t respond with a flush of new growth. I (Debbie) wouldn’t prune in winter or spring, except to remove damaged or diseased wood.

hsmuelle says:

Thank you!!! When is the best time to prune, and is there a time of the year you should not ever prune?

hopdoehop says:

in only 8 min

learned quite a bit about pruning apple trees

thank you so very much

yours truly

molder72 says:

Thank you very much from Serbia!

Woodsummer1 says:

Ooooh, well that makes perfect sense. (I’m just starting up an organic farm and I’ll be planting my first apple trees in a couple of weeks – obviously I know nothing about them yet! :)  Thank you for your reply, Debbie!

usefulplants says:

The goal with this cut is to influence the height of the next higher set of scaffold branches. For a semi-dwarf apple, 15-18″ is a good distance. If you really want the tree to grow to its maximum height, you could just not prune the leader. I (Debbie) prefer to have more of the branches lower where I can access the fruit!

Woodsummer1 says:

Excellent video! One question though… why does Chuck cut the central leader back so much on the second tree? I didn’t quite catch what that does for the tree or why you wouldn’t want it to grow upwards as much as possible. Thanks! :)

julieruf1 says:

I watched many tree pruning videos. Ths was the best of them. Great job. Very helpful!!!

higgin704 says:

Very informative. Thanks so much!!

shulamite1 says:

Thanks for that. We have an apple tree in the centre of our back garden that has not been pruned for 10 years and it’s taking over the garden. We are going to attack the poor thing tomorrow with a pruning saw and secateurs. You have given us great pointers as to how to do it without harming the tree.

usefulplants says:

Probably no way to know for sure. I (Debbie) bought both of them from UPN before I joined the nursery. The first (younger) tree is planted in my orchard and is a Wealthy apple. I’m 75% confident that is an M-7 rootstock. The second (older) tree is planted in my neighborhood garden and is a Goldrush. I know it’s semi-dwarf, but I don’t know its specific rootstock.

MegaJim79 says:

anyway finding out for sure?
also what type of apple is it?

usefulplants says:

I think they’re both M-7.

usefulplants says:

The limb will grow out from the bud, away from the branch it’s on. So if you gently bend the branch up to the tree, it would be on the outside of the branch. Or you could think of it being on the bottom of the branch if the branch is horizontal.

MegaJim79 says:

when they say: “cut to an outward bud”
if a bud is facing outward…how do we know whether it will grow vertically or horizontally?

MegaJim79 says:

This must be a M111 rootstock

coldcallinguk says:

That was an excellent video, thanks.

Speakersoxx says:

I wish i found this video 4 months ago, but it’ll help next year, tx in advance

prognanica says:

Chuck, Chuck, Chuck very nice, very nice place area, I am so jelaous in a good way.
Best wishes from Serbia

rafishe says:

Thanks Chuck… I’m excited to prune my trees now.

gardenbug55 says:

Thanks very much! You presented a lot of good information in a very clear manner – I now have hope that I might not mess up my apple trees that are just now this age!

arlingtonguy54 says:

Thanks Chuck. This is the best pruning video on Youtube that I have found so far. Very professional and clear info.

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