Late winter is the time to prune. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, pruning is an essential part of fruit tree care. During this dormant phase, you can see the overall shape more clearly and make cuts that will quickly heal with spring growth.
It’s the time to remove not only what is dead / diseased / deformed, but also to cut away some branches that seem perfectly healthy and strong, even a few that produced abundant fruit last season. The branches that remain also receive a good 20-30% trim, which might be mere inches or multiple feet from the tips. This is all aimed at opening up space for something new.
The goal of thinning is to allow light and air into the canopy, which boosts fruit production and reduces problems with pests and disease. It allows the remaining branches to receive a larger share of stored up energy, so that it can grow stronger and bear more and better fruit. I’ve been taught that the shape of the tree after pruning resembles an open hand, outstretched and ready to receive the sunlight and rain of spring
As we slowly emerge from this strange semi-dormant season, may God grant us the wisdom and the courage to attend to this difficult, discerning care for all of our churches, and for ourselves.
Peace and courage – Candacefrom Candice Provey, Resource Presbyter for The Presbytery of Norther New England, in the February 24, 2022 PNNE email update.