If you want to get the most from your fruit trees and enjoy a hearty yield of tasty fruit every year, there are a few important things you need to do to keep your fruit trees healthy and to maximize fruiting.
One of the most important things you can do is prune your trees every year. Whatever type of fruit trees you have, they will all benefit from an annual pruning. The key is to prune in moderation, this will rejuvenate the tree and promote the growth of fruiting spurs – a spur is a 3 – 5 inch section of branch on which the tree produces flowers and fruit. Pruning is not difficult, though you should never remove more than one third of the tree. This will have the opposite effect; the tree will have to repair itself and so will not produce fruit until it has regained more of its size. If you do not prune, this can also prevent fruit from growing. By removing the old fruit clusters you will encourage new spurs for the next season.
Reshaping your tree’s branches can also help increase fruit production because it allows more air and light to permeate the foliage. You can gently force the branches into an open canopy by bending them into a horizontal position, securing them in place with twine and staking it to the ground.
Like all plants, fruit trees need adequate nutrition, but if you over-fertilize your trees this will encourage growth at the expense of setting fruit. A balance of nitrogen and potassium is essential for growth, particularly when the tree is young. Phosphorous is also important to maintain resistance to disease and promote flower and fruit growth. The best way to ensure that your trees have a regular supply of these nutrients is to plant a perennial cover crop which includes grasses, legumes and herbs. These will add nitrogen to your soil, attract beneficial insects and cycle nutrients through your soil.