Cherry tree pruning: pruning season and how to prune cherry trees

Poda de cerezos, Altuna

Pruning cherry trees is an essential practice to ensure the health of the tree and maximise fruit production. At Altuna Chile, we have developed this guide to help growers understand the fundamental concepts of cherry tree pruning.

Why Prune Cherry Trees?

3 reasons why pruning cherry trees is crucial:

  1. Stimulate growth: Proper pruning encourages the development of strong, healthy branches.
  2. Improve fruit production: Removing dead or diseased branches allows the tree to concentrate its energy on producing more and better fruit.
  3. Increase light and ventilation: A well-pruned tree has better air circulation and greater exposure to sunlight, which reduces the risk of disease.

Types of pruning

3 types of pruning applicable to cherry trees:

  1. Formative pruning: It is carried out during the first years of the tree to give it a solid and well-formed structure.
  2. Maintenance pruning: It is carried out annually to maintain the health of the tree and the quality of the fruit.
  3. Renovation pruning: It is applied to old or neglected trees to rejuvenate them and improve their productivity.

When to prune cherry trees?

The ideal time to prune cherry trees is during winter, when the tree is dormant. This allows:

  • Less risk of infection.
  • The structure of the tree is easier to see.

However, light pruning can also be done in summer to remove unwanted shoots and improve the shape of the tree.

Tools needed for cherry tree pruning

Shears: The use of shears is recommended for pruning small branches and shoots up to 25 mm. The use of Altuna J466 shears (anvil cut) is recommended. This model of shears is usually used in areas where traditionally there has been production of larger fruit trees. In historical wine-growing areas, the Altuna J495 model (bypass cut) is usually used.

Two-handed shears: The use of two-handed shears is recommended for branches between 25 mm and 42 mm. However, at Altuna we have developed the high capacity line, which allows cuts of up to 50 mm (saves 70% on the use of saws on KGB cherry trees, increasing productivity by 45%-50%). Altuna 5323 two-handed shears and line 30 are ideal for all types of pruning up to 42 mm. Line 62 and line 50 are lines designed for large cuts. The use of two-handed shears with 80 cm and 90 cm handles are ideal for avoiding the use of ladders.

Pruning saw: For branches from 42 mm upwards we recommend the use of the Altuna 29604R330 pruning saw model. This model has an ergonomic handle, is lightweight and the cutting blade is ground to allow pruning that is less damaging to the fruit tree and at the same time requires less physical effort.

Battery-operated shears: The use of battery-operated shears can significantly increase pruning productivity, requiring less labour and avoiding injuries. Although battery shears have a considerable price tag, the time and labour savings make them highly productive. The following models are recommended for cherry trees:

  • Altuna AB37: For cuts up to 37 mm.
  • Altuna AB25-TITANIUM: For cuts up to 25 mm, which are usually suckers.
  • Altuna AB100-MS: Battery-powered chainsaw that replaces the saw, triples the cutting speed in green wood and quintuples the cutting speed in dry wood.
  • Kid gloves: To protect your hands.
  • Disinfectant: Most commonly used is 10% sodium hypochlorite and isopropyl alcohol at a concentration of 70% or higher.

5 Steps to Prune a Cherry Tree

5 essential steps for proper cherry tree pruning:

  1. Visual Inspection: The first step is to observe the tree with your advisor and decide the pruning pattern to follow according to the needs of the tree, so you will know which branches need to be removed. Look for branches that are dead, diseased or growing inwards and shading out other productive branches.
  2. Remove dead or diseased branches: Cut dead, damaged or diseased branches close to the base, without leaving stumps, as these can grow unwanted new shoots and generate additional work for the next pruning campaign.
  3. Competing branches: It is very important to remove branches that compete for space and light with each other. The selection process must be impeccable to ensure good production.
  4. Crown Formation: Clear the centre of the tree to improve ventilation and light penetration.
  5. Formative Trimming: During the first few years, shape the tree by pruning to create a strong, balanced structure.

Additional tips

Additional valuable tips for correct and successful pruning of cherry trees:

  • Cutting Angle: Make cuts at a 45-degree angle, just above a bud or side branch.
  • Healing: The use of pastapoda as a fungicide is essential after pruning.
  • Summer pruning: Keeps the orchard under control, alleviating winter pruning.
  • Use sharp, clean pruning tools to avoid damaging the tree. Pruning shears, saws and long-handled pruning shears are useful.
  • A complete catalogue of Altuna pruning tools can be downloaded here.

Thank you!

If you liked the tips in our publication, we invite you to share it with farmers and friends who may find it useful.

Written by Francisco Acuña Cortés, in charge of Altuna and Bikain lines for Chile.