How and when to prune apricot tree


An apricot is a fruit, or the tree that bears the fruit, of several species in the genus Prunus (stone fruits). Usually, an apricot tree is from the species Prunus armeniaca, but the species P. brigantina, P. mandshurica, P. mume, among other are closely related, have similar fruit, and are also called apricots. The fruit is a drupe similar to a small peach, 1.5–2.5 cm (0.6–1.0 in) diameter, from yellow to orange, often tinged red on the side most exposed to the sun. In this article we will learn all about how to prune an apricot, the time and the most appropriate tools for the task.


Note: Please note that the advice given here is general, this blog is consulted from many countries in the world, with totally different characteristics, what not all tips will be adapted in the same way in all cases. Once you finish reading the article it will be necessary to analyze all the information and apply what you have learned in the best way. If you have any questions, remember that you can contact us to make your inquiries.

1. Interesting facts about apricot tree


Before getting into the main topic of this post, pruning the apricot, I will leave some interesting facts about this fruit. I bet what you want, you do not know one or several of them. 😉

  • The origin of the apricot is disputed and unsettled. It was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long that it is often thought to have originated there.
  • Except in Antarctica, the apricot is produced in all other continents.
  • The average age of these fruit trees varies between 15 and 20 years.
  • The single seed is enclosed in a hard, stony shell, often called a “stone”, with a grainy, smooth texture except for three ridges running down one side.
  • California produces about 95% of apricots in the U.S.
How and when to prune apricot
Apricot tree
  • Apricots are a member of the rose family.
  • Apricots have been around for over 4000 years.
  • In a 100-gram (3.5 oz) amount, raw apricots supply 48 Calories and are composed of 11% carbohydrates, 1% protein, less than 1% fat and 86% water.
  • Apricots have many health benefits and can be mentioned; ability to treat indigestion, constipation, earaches, fevers, skin diseases, cancer and anemia.

2. Tools needed to prune or trim an apricot tree


As with all fruits, there are several tools you will need to carry out your pruning or trimming. Each of them appropriate for different cases depending on the age of the apricot, the time of year, type of pruning etc.

  • Pruning shears.
  • Handsaw
  • Chainsaw.
  • Ladder or scaffolding.
  • Basic safety elements such as helmet and gloves.

Keep in mind that you must disinfect all cutting tools before pruning the apricot. This will help to avoid transmitting diseases, you will have to do it before you start pruning and every time you change plants.

3. Why an apricot should be pruned


All fruit trees need to be pruned for a control of the production and useful life of the plant, in the apricot is not the exception. If we want to list reasons why pruning should be carried out, we will have the following:

  • Rebalance the tree among shoots, roots and fruit.
  • Improve fruit quality, with more minerals available to the fruit.
  • Keep fruit off the ground.
  • Reduce tree size.
  • Increase ease of harvesting.
  • Develop trees with strong framework.
  • Improve pest control.
  • Improve profitability.
  • Reduce costs.
  • Restore tree vigor.
  • Most fruit hangs low, making picking easier and more productive.

The above list can continue, but I think it is more than clear the importance of pruning in apricot control and care.

4. How to prune apricot tree


In modern fruit growing the concept of pruning part of a set of principles in which you have to take into account following factors:

  • Forming a structure or skeleton on which to support the capacity productive
  • Distribute the production organs so that they do not interfere in the luminosity and do not believe between them spaces of competition.
  • Leave enough organs to have optimal production.
  • Adapting the plantation frame according to the size of the variety or varieties.
  • Know and differentiate the various types of organs that have the apricot tree, as well as its evolution and development.

In short, we will summarize this knowledge in a “concept of pruning “in which, respecting the natural way of vegetating of each variety, you get the largest “production volume” in the shortest time possible.

Throughout the life of the apricot there are several types of pruning that must be carried out, all governed by the principles described above. Among the most common prunings are:

  • Plantation.
  • Formation and production.
  • Pruning in green.
  • Rejuvenation.

In what follows we will develop one by one all the types of pruning of the apricot, with its objectives and forms of action.

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4.1 Pruning old apricot trees – Rejuvenation pruning

Although the life chronology of an apricot tree would indicate that I would have to start by analyzing plantation prunings, I have decided to start by analyzing old specimen prunings. I have decided so because a couple of months ago I bought a nice house, and in its garden I found a couple of old apricot trees, and in great need of rejuvenation pruning.

I had never pruned these types of fruit trees, so my first experience was with these old plants. However, not all plants are created equal, but in general, you will be able to find three different situations when it comes to old apricot trees.

4.1.1 First case

Planting in a state of aging limit in which the productive capacity is too short. The pruning produced in previous years on the trunks and main branches of the tree, have reduced the capacity of circulation of sap, due to the wounds, and its growth is weak.

As long as the employer is in good condition, the performance will consist in removing all the material vegetative below the graft, in the period of vegetative rest, in order to stimulate the emission of shoots of the potainjerto in spring. Of the new springs, will select three or four per tree for a later grafted.

4.1.2 Second case

Trees with a medium hardening degree, that have a limited capacity of emitting mixed bouquets and suckers in the middle and lower zones. The age and health status still we allow to carry out a series of actions in the winter prunings.

One of these pruning of the apricot will be to reduce the main branches in a staggered way to cause the emission of new outbreaks, that allow us to recover the unproductive spaces.

The realization of these recesses It can be done in all branches of the tree cutting them at a height of 80cm to 1m the cross. To not have an important production loss the operation previous will be done in a two-year period, lowering the half of the main branches the first year and the rest of the branches the second year.

Another way to get a satisfactory response in the sprouts emission is to lower all the branches of the top of the tree, leaving enough branches productive and taking advantage of better placed pacifiers. These will will break out from 20 30 cm. from the base.

In this apricot pruning where the cuts which are made are large, so that we must cover them, passed between twenty-four and forty and eight hours, with wound protectors to facilitate healing and avoid possible pathogenic infections and dried out produced by the same wound.

4.1.3 Third case

The one presented vigorous or poise varieties very erect, they have great capacity of emission of pacifiers, and whose production has shifted to the highest areas of the tree.

In this situation proceeds to select, during the vegetative period of spring-summer, a series of branches pacifiers that, when they reach a height of 1 m, they will arch or will be forced by ligatures or twists. Thus, its capacity is diminished of longitudinal growth and we force the emission of buds anticipated at the same time that cover unproductive areas or depopulated.

In the winter pruning will proceed to the unleashed of these branches to same time that will break at the convenient length, on a anticipated or a bud that is oriented in the most unpopulated part from the tree.

4.2 Trimming of apricot plantation

When we acquire a plant, usually from a nursery, it will take between one or two years. It is time to plant it, with the necessary care and pruning.

4.2.1 Root pruning

When the plantation is done, on the seat ground, We will check if the roots of the seedlings are broken, broken or deteriorated due to starting in the nursery.

For this reason we must make a pruning of the apricot at its root, taking into account the following rules:

  • Remove all root badly located or that intersects with another.
  • Remove all the roots that present necrosities, rottenness or deformations.
Root pruning of apricot tree
Root pruning of apricot tree
  • Realize the pruning of the rest of the roots leaving them at a length between ten and twenty centimeters, trying not to leave no type of injury in them and that the cuts are as smooth possible.
  • Cut the finest rootlets leaving them between one and three centimeters of long.
  • The tools used to carry out this operation will be preferably a pair of scissors pruning.

4.2.2 Aerial pruning

To balance the aerial part with the root system, as well as mark the height of the trunk, we will make the first blip of the plant at a height of 30-40 cm, in order to have, after a few years, trees of a height that we allow most of work (harvesting and pruning) from soil.

After the pruning of the apricot on the plantation we must have the following cares:

  • Vigrate if cracks occur on earth that may cause drying of roots. To avoid them it is convenient to maintain a humidity adequate by irrigation newspapers.
  • Fill the holes if there have been settlement of land.
  • Place a tutor to each plant, in windy areas, in seedlings weak or in dormant bud plants, to avoid tearing produced by the wind.
  • Trim the buds of the pattern in plants to dormant bud, to cause budding of the graft. This operation will be carried out every fifteen days.
  • To attach the graft to the tutor, when it reaches a length between 15- 20 cm If the graft has two or more sprouted buds will be eliminated weaker or worse ones.
  • Vigrate in these first states of growth the attacks of plagues and diseases.
  • Do not prune any outbreak of graft or variety until it meets the necessary conditions for effect pruning in green

4.3 Formation and production pruning in apricot

The juvenile period of the apricot tree it should be as short as possible, since from a point of economic view, it is fundamental, accelerate the entry into production.

To achieve this, when pruning the apricot, it is necessary to delete only the expendable wood, in order to give the tree the right volume and favor the insolation, because the duration of the unproductive period is in relation direct with the suppressed wood in the pruning during the first years.

How to prune apricot tree - Formation pruning
How to prune apricot tree – Formation pruning

In the first years the pruning of Training will be focused on:

  • Select the material of the structure of the tree and the branches productive taking full advantage all the springs.
  • Remove thick branches of one or more years of age that occupy spaces that do not correspond.
  • Remove pacifiers that do not they were removed in pruning in green and that will not be part of the structure From the tree.
  • Mark the heights of the tree always starting with the branch weaker principal, in order to balance the others. The guide is will clear about 50 cm to avoid the competition with other branches lateral
  • Distribute the productive material leaving it located in such way that receives the highest insolation possible and that does not enter competition with other bodies.
  • Prune based on productivity and size of the fruit of each variety.

4.4 Green pruning of apricot

The green pruning of apricots should be a continuous action throughout the Vegetative period of the apricot tree.

In practice, the performances that must be done are three or four. The first address addressed to the buds closer to the trunk and the base of the main branches. The second to the middle part and the third And a quarter of the rest of the plant.

Between each performance a period of time of three to four weeks must pass and the number of shoots that will be eliminated will depend on the age and vigor of the tree.

Green pruning apricot
Green pruning apricot

We can give as a rule indicative that a small tree they can be eliminated in each performance between three and ten shoots, a a medium tree between ten and quince buds and an adult tree Between quince and twenty-five buds.

To eliminate these outbreaks we must wait for them to have a length about thirty minutes and the thickness of a pencil.

During the training period of the tree is essential prune in green if we want to get: a rational distribution of skeleton of the tree; a larger volume and a rapid entry into production.

Among the pruning of the apricot there is no doubt that pruning in green is the least practiced. A serious error, since as we have seen is an essential pruning

5. When to prune apricot tree


Pruning can be done during throughout the vegetative period of plant. However, the characteristics of the various actions in the pruning allow to establish two epochs:

A) The one understood from the beginning of sprouting until the fall of the leaves. Corresponds to spring – summer and it’s the call prune in green or in vegetation.

B) The one that extends from the fall of leaves until the beginning of the sprouting It is the pruning practiced during the autumn – winter and that we call winter pruning.

On the other hand, each type of apricot pruning has an appropriate time to carry it out:

  • Plantation: His name makes it very clear, it should be pruned to the monento of the transplant.
  • Formation and production: these prunings are carried out in the autumn winter season
  • Pruning in green: this pruning should be carried out during spring – summer.
  • Rejuvenation: the pruning of rejuvenation in an apricot should be carried out during the autumn. We seek to protect the great wounds of wet seasons (summer) and the most severe frosts.

6. How to prune an apricot tree video


To close the article I leave you a good video (From the channel GreenGardenGuy1) Where you will see in a practical way much of what has been explained so far.

Good until here the article has arrived, I hope you have understood everything about how and when to make the pruning of the apricot, and do not doubt even a second when you take your scissors. 🙂

You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:

Source information:

Aproximación a la poda del albaricoquero – D. Villarrubia, E. Mataix.

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