Something we have been dealing with a lot lately in town is apple tree branch failure. Branches, large and small, are breaking under the weight of abnormally abundant apple production this year.
Last year with multiple late frosts, apple and other fruit trees did not produce much fruit. Though this is a common problem in the early flowering Apricot trees in town it is not nearly as common in apple trees. As a result the energy required to produce fruit was stored in the roots throughout all of last growing season. This led to a major increase in growth, which in turn has led to a hefty increase in fruit production this season. So much production that branches are breaking under the strain of fruit weight.
There are a few solutions to this problem. The first and easiest is to simply shake fruit heavy branches or use a long pole to gently knock the fruit off of the branches. This will greatly reduce strain. Although it is messy and will require a fair amount of clean up it is necessary for the health and well being of your fruit trees. An added benefit is that the remaining fruit will have less competition and will be larger and of higher quality. Another solution is pruning. Many customers that we speak to think that fruit tree pruning is something that can only happen in the winter time. While there are merits to this way of thinking, it is our experience that fruit trees can safely and successfully be pruned in the summer time as well. Cuts will actively heal during the time period that the tree is not dormant. Small cuts will completely heal over in a fraction of the time it would take during dormancy. As there is not many diseases outside of Fire Blight that attack apple trees in Durango, disease transfer risk can be mitigated with regular cleaning of all cutting tools. Taking these precautionary measures we can prune your fruit trees in the summer time and address the issue of over fruiting as well as any other structural problems.
It is a case of too much of a good thing becoming a bad thing. Take a look at your fruit trees and see if they could benefit from some weight reduction. Your tree will thank you with higher quality fruit and a full and healthy canopy free of large tear outs.