Free Delivery this week - use PP1118 in the basket

How to prune Cordon Fruit Trees

This is just about pruning cordons - there is a much longer piece on growing cordon fruit trees if you would like to know more.

Cordons should be pruned every year around mid August (i.e. about now). Your cordon is ready for pruning when the new side shoots from the main stem(s) become woody at their base. Shorten all of this new growth from the main stem to 3 or 4 leaves above the basal cluster of leaves at the base of the shoot.

Where a shoot from the main stem has a side shoot coming of it, prune this also - to one leaf above the cluster of leaves its base

Pruning of fruit trees is generally carried out in winter or early spring. Cordons are different in that you restrict their growth by pruning now and the ideal cordon is compact and covered in fruiting spurs (which this treatment encourages).

You can use this technique on any shape of fruit tree if you wish to restrict its size but at the same time ensure it produces lots of fruit.  The trick is to use a M9 semi-dwarfing or MM106 semi-vigorous rootstock

We hope your plants have grown well this summer (certainly not much need to water!)

Watch your plants grow, and enjoy!

9 thoughts on “How to prune Cordon Fruit Trees”

  • Donald

    Hi - my question is about cordon fruit trees.
    I purchased eight cordon apple trees, two cordon pear trees and a bush plum tree from Ashridge Trees a year ago and all are doing really well. I read to prune cordons in July/August in first year and this I did. Several trees are now producing strong fresh growth from pruned points. Should these be re pruned and if so when? I have not pruned the leading growth which on three of the cordon fruit trees has been quite considerable in the year. In some cases the trees are up to seven feet or would be even more if stood up straight. When should I prune these back to my top wire height of about 5ft 6in?

    Will be most grateful for help.
    Regards
    Donald

    Reply
  • julian

    Thanks for your enquiry

    When cordon fruit trees are growing away well (and it sounds like at least some are) then you can summer prune in the year after planting. If some are taking longer to eastablish then skip summer pruning.

    All cordon fruit trees should be winter pruned however (therefore an established cordon is pruned twice a year).

    Summer pruning involves reducing side branches and sub-branches to 5 leaves and it is best done in August/September. The number of leaves is not critical, the principal reason for summer pruning of cordons being to reduce the amount of sap that is returned to the roots, thereby reducing their growing vigour.

    Winter pruning is best done in January and involves shortening by a further 2 leaves (nodes in winter) leaving 3.

    Hope this helps

    Reply
  • Donald

    re: Pruning cordon apple trees
    Hallo and thank you for your very useful reply. However I would still like to know what to do about the leading shoots on some of my cordon apple trees that appear to be reaching for the sky. Should I prune these back now or in the winter. It will mean taking quite a lot off to get them down to my top wire of about 5ft 6ins? Thanks for your help.
    Regards
    Donald

    Reply
  • julian

    Hi Donald
    No problem - just me being thick. I would cut your cordon fruit trees back (in terms of height) in winter. These will always try to regrow from the top and the advantage of winter pruning in this case is that you can see the dormant buds more clearly then and so it is easier to choose which one to cut back to.

    As an aside, there is no horticultural need for cordoned fruit trees to be kept to the height of the top wire. They are all stout stemmed and can easily be allowed to grow up another 45 - 60 cms above the last support. The only restriction is how high you want to reach.

    Hope this helps.

    Reply
  • Tim

    Thanks, very useful, but the link to the diagram seems to have got broken - at any rate it's not displaying for me.

    Reply
  • julian

    Thanks very much for pointing it out. The Summer Pruning of Cordon Fruit Trees diagram is back in its rightful place.

    Hope it helps.

    Reply
  • Veronica

    Hi, our Braeburn cordon apple tree is now a few years old. It didn't get properly pruned last year, so some side shoots are very long, with the basal leaf cluster appearing 6"-8" along the shoot, instead of near the trunk. How should I prune those shoots? Thanks, Veronica.

    Reply
    • Edward

      Hi Veronica,
      If the buds lower back on the side-shoots off arising form the main trunk of the tree are still alive, then the same method of pruning that should have been used in the first place can be used. This will cause quite a lot of vegetative growth in the first growing season after pruning: cut this re growth back to one bud up from the basal cluster to form the fruiting spur.
      Have fun!

      Reply
  • Gary

    Hi Veronica,
    One of my (apple) cordon trees only had growth in the first and last third of it's length, so it looks quite peculiar! How do I get it to produce leaf/blossom in this area next year please?

    Reply
Leave a Reply
Hi, just a note to let you know that we do use cookies for our web site. They are used to help us determine what our customers really want and therefore to give them the best service they deserve. We also use cookies to enable you to buy products from us online and do so in a convenient and secure manner.

Thank you, The Ashridge Nurseries Team.

Back to top

Leave us a message!