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I think I need to give my Bramley apple tree its first prune.

I bought it as a small whip of a tree about 4 yrs ago and its now about 9ft tall at its highest point. Its main trunk is about 4 ft tall before it splits. It has developed two lead branches that are looking a little too long.

Should I just cut these two back, and by how much? I know ideally the tree should grow more as a cup shape that is open in the centre, rather than an upright slender tree. Heres a photo..



 Many thanks 



Don't know about apples but if it was any other tree I'd have one of those twin leaders out and train the other one upright.

Hiya LeadFarmer. I grow a couple of apple (and pear) trees but they are "spur" bearers which means they are easily controlled by regular pruning and produce good annual fruit. From memory, I think Bramleys are different, they are tip bearers and that's why I didnt plant this variety. I know them to be vigorous trees. However I would remove one of the leaders completely and cut out branches that cross each other, that are growing inwards and that are dead. I know of a Bramley apple that was hacked back only to produce masses of growth and no fruit so dont overprune



Perhaps I'll start by pruning where Ive marked this photo..


Yes I would prune as you have indicated. And then prune each year but do t go mad....."growth follows the knife" ....cut too hard and you will get more non fruiting growth

Im always hesitant when pruning, but then once Ive started I cant stop!

The only problem I can see with pruning this way is that I will always only have the three brances. I really would like some more side branches so Im now wondering if I ought to cut these back to encourage more branches? Even if that means going without fruit this year?

Well, when looking at your photo my first thoughts were that your tree was a bit lanky. If it were MY tree I would do it MY WAY, viz., to. prune back hard to outward buds to try the "vase" shape, as with most fruit trees. Almost to start again. These would grow vigorously next year. Late summer I would prune back again to encourage further branches. If you can forgo fruit for a couple of seasons I think you,would get a bushier tree. Then prune as originally suggested. I'm open here to accusations I'm changing my advice but this is what I WOULD DO MYSELF. But I'm always experimenting and trying things using some logic as to how it SHOULD turn out. Others may disagree. I couldn't tolerate such a lanky tree as yours, would have pruned earlier, but would have a go at getting the tree shape I want with a view to heavy fruiting in a few years' time. It's easier with spur can have great fun with them....bending branches down or in weird and wonderful ways. A friend of mine used to do things like this to,produce loads of fruit on fantastically shaped trees/bushes. I think if you could train for shape and bushyness now and then revert to recommended pruning later you would get good results ........?

I think thats good advice, and I will do just that. Your right, I should have pruned it sooner and I shall now have to forego some fruit in order to get the shape right.


Thanks very much


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