How To Prune Old Orange Trees
If you have old orange trees on your land, they will require regular pruning if they are to produce plenty of fruit for you to enjoy. You can carry out some of this pruning work yourself, although if your trees are very tall, the job might be best left to a professional tree services contractor.
When to prune
It's best to prune old orange trees annually when any risk of frost has passed and prior to the emergence of new growth in the early spring.
In order to minimise injury to the tree, you should sterilise all your pruning tools before you start. You can do this by wiping down your pruning shears and pruning saw with rubbing alcohol. This kills off bacteria or fungus that could otherwise infect your tree.
It's also very important that the tools are sharp, as dull blades can pull on the tree bark and leave ragged cuts that are prone to infection or infestation by pest insects. Some tool hire and DIY shops offer an inexpensive blade sharpening service, and it's a good idea to take advantage of this before you begin this job.
How to prune your orange trees
When thinning out branches, always make a clean, straight cut outside of the 'branch collar' and sloping away from the tree; the collar is the lumpy growth where the branch joins the tree trunk.
- Start by removing any dead, diseased or damaged branches. Look out for peeling bark, patches of green mould, and wood that is dry and brown inside and get rid of it. If the branches are thin enough, you can use your pruning shears for this. Thicker branches will mean that you will need to use a pruning saw.
- The tree will grow more vigorously and fruit better if the canopy has plenty of light and air. To do this you'll need to thin out any branches that cross over, as well as those that are thin and too weak to bear the weight of the fruit.
- Remove any 'water sprouts'. These are recognisable as spindly, weak branches that grow straight up from out of the trunk or from the larger branches. Water sprouts don't bear fruit and just sap the tree of valuable nutrients.
- There's no need to treat the pruned branches with any form of barrier preparation. The tree will naturally heal the wounds by itself, and attempting to seal or treat the cuts could actually damage the tree by locking in diseases.
You can increase your annual fruit crop by giving your orange trees an annual makeover as outlined above. If this job involves working at height, it's wise to ask a professional tree services contractor to do the work for you as part of their annual tree inspection and maintenance and visit.