|How to prune
From the beginning, trees are trained with a central leader that is then developed into a vase shape as the tree continues to grow over the years.
Plant out grafted trees in spring. Just before the leaves drop (about October in New Zealand, though this is dependent on the variety), prune the main shoot to about 80cm above the ground. After the leaves have dropped, each bud will produce an upright and a horizontal shoot. Choose one strong upright shoot that will form the main leader and pinch out the horizontal shoot from the same bud. The remaining shoots will form fruiting arms for which the process is reversed and any upright shoots are removed, producing branches with strong crotch angles (60º90º) that are perfect for fruiting.
Pinch out shoots while theyre still small and green (but only from the main leader), which will prevent greater damage being done later. Bigger limbs need to be removed or they may break off leaving a big scar which could possibly unbalance the tree.
Several fruiting limbs should be in place on the first level of the main leader by the end of the first year.
When the leaves have dropped prune all limbs back to 40cm in length to promote new shoots on each branch and another layer of fruiting shoots on the main leader. Dont prune the limbs too hard or the tree will develop excessive and wasteful vegetative growth, although if the shoots are not pruned enough the terminal buds will grow leaving an unfruitful space in the centre of the tree. Pinch out any upright shoots from the main leader.
Before the next pruning, trees at the end of the second year should be about 1.5m tall and have a well-balanced shape.
After the leaves have dropped, prune any limbs that grew last season back to 30cm in length. By now the main leader should be less dominant and generally becomes a main fruiting limb. As growth takes off again, a number of flowers should appear that may develop into fruit, and if the tree has been managed correctly about 15 fruit should easily be carried until harvest at no expense to the trees growth.
By the end of the third year, the basic shape and structure should be in place for producing good crops.
Year 4 onwards
For this and all following years prune the previous seasons growth back to 1520cm in length. This is how much the tree size will increase by each year until the optimal size is reached. By pruning the shoots to this length the tree will produce enough floral buds and vegetative growth for fruit protection and also encourage growth from the centre of the tree. Hard pruning will produce excessive growth at the expense of flowering and fruit production.
Over time, branches will require thinning due to overcrowding, or if the fruiting wood is growing too far away from the trunk and becoming flimsy. Prune back to a new vegetative shoot. Remember to remove any diseased, dead or damaged wood during pruning.
A nicely pruned tree