General Responses To Pruning

As pruning removes vegetative material, it changes the balance between the aboveground part of the tree (shoots, buds, and leaves) and the belowground part (roots). When pruning alters this balance, the tree responds with vegetative regrowth until the balance is reestablished. This stimulation of regrowth is in close proximity to the cuts. The amount of regrowth that follows pruning is in direct proportion to the severity of pruning (Table T2.1), with vegetative growth developing at the expense of flower bud formation. As pruning severity increases, flower bud production decreases proportionally (Figure T2.1). Pruning young trees delays the onset and amount of early fruit production. Excessive pruning in bearing trees can result in excessive vegetative vigor, a reduction in spur and flower development, and a decrease in yield. As shoot growth increases following pruning, root growth is decreased. The reestablishment of the balance within the tree results from an increase in shoot development and a slowdown in root development. Ultimately, pruning reduces the total growth of the tree and, as such, remains a major method of tree size control in fruit production.

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