Guide on Training and Pruning of Fruit Trees

Do you have a fruit tree big enough to bear fruit, looks healthy but bears very less fruits and leaves you to wonder, why??

Is there a tree too dense, and you don’t know how and where to start to make it penetrable? Well, you are at the right place; this article gives you the correct and scientific ways for doing it.

Training and pruning are significant activities and work together to make your trees well-structured and strong. They serve aesthetic purposes by designing the tree in certain shapes starting since it is in the nursery. Moreover, these practices are mainly used in fruit trees to bear fruits more in number and better quality.

What is Pruning?

Pruning is the removal of unwanted and diseased plant parts to improve its shape and influence its growth. Parts like shoots, spurs, leaves, or roots are removed while pruning.


Objectives/ Purpose of pruning plants

-Training of young trees.

-Rejuvenate old trees.

-Maintain the health of grown-up trees.

-Remove diseased, dried, and broken branches.


Rules for pruning a plant

-The cut should be made minimum.

-The cut should be clean and smooth.

-Never leave a stub.

-Use Bordeaux Paste on the wound.


Different methods of pruning a plant

-Maintain the tree height and make mostly thinning cuts  (Light prune)

-Reduce the tree height slowly over about a three-year period  (Medium prune)

-Cutting back all main branches leaving only main branch (Heavy prune)


What are the types of pruning?

Summer pruning

It is done during summer and spring.

Young, vigorous shoots are removed, which are not required to create permanent branches. Main stem is also headed back to maintain the height of the plant.

Young summer shoots may also be bent or staked to train the tree to a certain shape or grow a branch in a certain direction.


Dormant pruning

If appropriate summer pruning is done, there will be very few requirements for dormant pruning.

Loss of leaves in the dormant season gives a clear view of the tree’s framework, so thinning or heading back to create the desired shape and size is done.

It is better to prune late in the winter season rather than early as the wounds made later on season heal faster.

Sometimes heavy pruning can be performed to protect trees from winter injury.


Systems of pruning plants

Heading back: Only the tops of branches are cut to promote the growth of lateral branches.

Thinning out: Removal of the branch from its point of growth to reduce the number of branches.

Dehorning: Cutting away the thick major branches.

Bulk pruning: Heavy pruning all over the tree.


Importance of pruning a plant

The importance of pruning a plant are:

1. To maintain the plant’s health.

2. To induce better flower and fruit production.

3. For clearance so that every part of the plant receives sunlight.

4. To create strong trees and wind resistance.

5. To improve tree structure and reduce shade.


What is Training?

Training is the process of developing the desired shape and size of a plant by controlling its growth habit. It starts from the nursery stage with the main aim to make it strong enough to bear a heavy crop load.


Objectives/ Purpose of training a plant

-Develop a framework that allows maximum leaves to get sunlight.

-Develop a framework that allows light and air to pass easily at the center of the tree by reducing the crowd of branches.

-Direct the growth of trees so that operations like harvesting, spraying, etc., can be done easily and at a low cost.

-For balanced distribution of fruit-bearing branches throughout the tree.

-Protect the tree from sunburn and windbreak.


Principles of training plant

– Mainframe must be formed strong.

– More focus should be given to limb positioning than to pruning to keep the branches well-spaced and balanced on all sides.

– Do not allow several branches to grow very near or at one place.

– If two branches are growing at the same point, then try to train them to the wider angles as narrow angles are very weak.

– Carefully train the main branches according to the shape you want for a tree with at least 45֯⁰ angle with the trunk.

– Remove unwanted shoots when they are still small.

– Start training since the planting time.


Methods of training plant

Pinching: Removing the terminal buds at the tip of the plant. It makes lateral shoots grow stronger and make plants bushier.

Disbudding: Removing the lateral buds of plants to encourage upward growth and fruiting in plants.

Thinning: Removal of excess fruits to grow bigger and better quality fruits.

Pruning: Removal of ill-placed and diseased branches.

Staking: Provide support to the vines to grow in the desired direction.


What are different systems of training plants?

The most common systems of training a fruit tree are:

Center Leader System

The central main stem is allowed to grow indefinitely while the side branches are pruned.

Such trees bear fruit mainly near the top, while lower branches are less vigorous and less fruitful.



Open center or Vase System

This system allows full sunshine to reach each branch.

The main stem is allowed to grow up to a height of about 1.5-1.8 meters, and then it is cut, and lateral branches are allowed to develop.



Modified Leader System

This is intermediate for center leader and vase systems.

The main stem is first allowed to grow indefinitely up to 4-5 years which is then headed back, and other later branches are encouraged to grow.



Bower System

This is a popular system for training vines.

The plant is allowed to grow till it reaches up to the wires that support the vines, which are then headed back, and two branches are allowed to grow in the opposite direction.


Other systems are:

Bush System



Espalier etc.


Proper training by correct pruning develops strong plant which is less infected by diseases and pests. Also, neglected trees are prone to damage by fruit load and storm breakage. Taking good care of your plants will increase the beauty of your garden.

Love Plants!! Enjoy Gardening!!


So, Did you liked the article?? Please write comments and suggestions.

Also read about 3G cutting in plants to obtain higher yields.


Barsha Bhandari

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  1. A very interesting article. I thought they were part of pilea peperomioids. These nasturtium grow like weeds where I live in southern part of South Africa. The only problems are snails. They are hardy and face drought conditions well. We don’t get frost. I love them xx

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