How to Train Apple Trees

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Training apple trees is important to get the most fruit out of the season and for easier harvesting, so prune the top of the tree into a vase shape to encourage more fruit growth where the sun hits it. Begin training apple trees from the small starter plants with advice from a sustainable gardener in this free video on gardening.

Part of the Video Series: Garden Maintenance Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi. This is Yolanda Vanveen and in this segment, we're going to talk about how to train an apple tree. So you buy a nice little apple tree start and you throw it in the yard and if you ignore it, it will still give you fruit. But there are some tricks that you can use to train it so that you get more fruit in the end and that'll last longer and for the next ten to twenty years you can get apples out of that tree or even longer. So there's a few rules that you should follow when you're planting an apple tree and how to train it. So the trick with an apple tree is even when you have a small start is to cut out about half of the limbs. And you want the middle part to be more of a vase or an oval in the middle. So by just cutting one of the leads out on this side and the opposite side, then the opposite side, then the opposite side, you're thinning out the tree. And then that way for the future it'll have four main branches that will support the tree and give you lots of fruit. So then the second year, you have these four main branches that have gotten much larger. And sometimes they have a tendency to break if it's really windy. So by just using a nice strap or a rope or a nylon or anything that's soft and just tying the two sides together, then you don't have to worry about them splitting apart. But you want to cut out a lot of the top growth so it stays shorter. You don't want an apple tree to be thirty feet tall with just large limbs so you can't get to the main apples. Cause most of the apples are going to grow towards the top of the tree. So by just trimming out a lot of the little starts and just leaving many of the main starts you'll get a lot more fruit. So by the third year, the same thing. You still have the rope and you've got some larger branches but wherever they're taking a Y situation, they potentially could break. So just tying them together can help. But generally, I find apple trees are so tough whether you tie them or not, you usually don't ever lose them. And then the same thing. You just cut out a lot of the top branches and that way they're much fuller and you can get to the apples. So by the fourth year you're going to get a lot of apples and they're going to be easy to get to. And you've trained it so that a lot of the lower branches are coming out and you're getting a lot of fruit on the lower branches. And all the energy's not going towards the top of the tree. It's going to the bottom of the tree. So in the fall is the best time or in the middle of winter if you live in a milder climate to prune your tree and train your apple tree. And you always want to cut out any dead branches or if you have a bad storm, any damaged branches you want to cut them out. And that way the next year you can have lots of apples on your apple tree.

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