Apricot trees are the one deciduous* fruit tree that should not be pruned during winter after leaves drop. Apricot trees pruned in winter are susceptible to a disease called Eutypa dieback. The fungus enters the pruning wounds and infects the tree. The symptoms of Eutypa show up in late spring or summer. Trees ooze sap that crystalizes on twigs and limbs. Branches begin to die off, and have dead leaves that are still attached.
To treat eutypa dieback, you’ll need to remove the diseased tissue. When you make a cut, you’ll see that the inside of the branch tissue is brown. Cut off infected limbs 1 foot past that point into the tree branch.
To prevent Eutypa, prune apricot trees in summer using the types of pruning cuts detailed below during summer. Pruning should be completed at least 6 weeks before the rainy season begins.
Pruning your Apricot Tree
Pruning is both an art and a science. Your goal is to remove about 20% of last years growth. Once finished, you should have a nicely shaped tree that gets light and air flow in and around its trunk and branches.
There are two types of pruning cuts. Heading cuts and thinning cuts. Each one is done at a 45 degree angle on the branch of the tree. Apricot tree pruning requires both types of cuts be done at the same time of year.
Heading cuts are done on new growth. Cut the branch back to shape the tree. This also promotes more growth along the branch and space for fruit to grow.
Thinning cuts remove entire branches on the tree. Prune to get rid of dead or diseased branches and branches that cross each other (choose one to keep). Thin branches out of your tree to create more space and air flow.
More Pruning information
At the moment I don’t have any illustrations to show pruning cuts. There are many ways to ruin a fruit tree, so before you pick up those pruners, purchase a good pruning book! I highly recommend Grow a Little Fruit Tree by my good friend Ann Ralph. She discusses both thinning and heading cuts and the book has helpful illustrations. Grow a Little Fruit Tree tells how to grow small fruit trees with loads of easily accessible fruit.
*trees or shrubs that lose their leaves in winter.