Last week I tackled one of the most misunderstood home gardening chores: the pruning of stonefruits and other deciduous fruit trees. In that column I explained the purpose of winter pruning is to achieve quality fruit and a higher yield, not to control tree size, which is often attempted. Summer is when these trees should be pruned to restrict size. Cutting back these trees heavily in winter will not reduce the tree size; it only serves to eliminate most fruit production, while forever making a mess of the tree's branching and structure.
As promised, this week I'll quickly explain the 1-2-3s of winter stonefruit and deciduous fruit tree pruning. I don't have space to go into too much depth, but I can at least provide a primer.
The first step for is to completely remove, leaving no stubs, all branches that are crossing through the center of the tree, from one side to the other. Next, completely remove any dead, broken, damaged or diseased branches. These first two steps are universal for any common stonefruit tree.