Pruning Apples and Pears
Winter is a good time to consider pruning apple and pear trees. This will give trees better structure and will encourage fruit production, by allowing better light and air penetration into the tree. Older wood is removed, giving younger, more productive wood a better start.
Apple and pear trees will benefit from pruning every year. By not pruning, the tree will become 'congested' and will bear smaller fruit. However, over pruning will cause lots of wood growth, and little fruiting. So a balance between the two is required.
Start by removing any dead or damaged wood - cutting back to a healthy branch.
Remove any branches that are 'crossing' over other branches or growing inwards rather than out, or ones that are growing at a downwards or unwanted angle.
Shorten last years wood growth on branch leaders by a quarter.
If the plant is still 'crowded' it may benefit from the removal of side branches or spurs. Remember that the objective at this time of the year is to 'open' up the airflow through the tree and prepare the tree for fruiting.
If you have inherited an overgrown tree in a new garden, bear in mind that pruning may need to take place over two or three years to get the tree into the best form. Always use sharp secateurs or a pruning saw for bigger branches.