Summer Pruning Guide: Fruit Trees Edition

Are you looking at your abundant fruit harvest and wondering the best way to keep fruit trees aesthetically pleasing in addition to producing delicious fruit, before we get into fall and winter (that’s when the real pruning work begins)?

Summer Fruit Tree Pruning

Are your fruit trees looking heavy? Do your fruit trees have deadwood?

Now is the time to take care of some proactive fall pruning work, with some summer fruit tree pruning!

As a reminder, as a general rule of thumb the majority of pruning fruit trees happens during dormancy. Winter pruning encourages new growth on the fruit trees. This will occur in December and January.

This DIY fruit tree article is to help you get a little ahead of the game. Here’s what you can trim during summer:


  • Thin out deadwood on fruit trees. During dormancy it may not be as easy to determine live tissue from dead. If you see deadwood on fruit trees now, it’s ok to remove. Thinning out deadwood will also help distribute the sunlight more evenly throughout the tree.
  • Summer pruning uses thinning cuts which does not encourage new growth (as opposed to winter pruning which stimulates growth). During the summer months, remove leafy upper branches that are over-shading fruit on the lower branches.
  • The summer thinning cuts help build your ideal tree limb structure. If you have young fruit trees, summer pruning is ideal.
  • If you want to keep your mature fruit trees at an easy-to-harvest height, summer pruning helps keep those trees in check – so as not get too tall or wide for cumbersome maintenance.
  • Pest control can be a benefit of summer pruning too. If you prune off fruit with damage from mites, moths, or tree aphids, be careful! You don’t want to contaminate your orchard. Dispose of these infested fruit and branches promptly, and never compost them.

Experts Say…


  • Stone fruits, such as peaches and nectarines grow quite rapidly and should have 50% of their new growth removed after harvest.
  • Slow growing apricots and plums and need only 20% of their new growth pruned away.
  • However, depending on the species and size of the tree, we always suggest you contact your arborist for his/her advice on how much to trim off your fruit tree in summer months.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful on how to prune fruit trees during summer. Please visit our other informational blogs on fruit trees for more helpful information to ensure a bountiful harvest!

Fruit Tree Selection Guide

Fruit Tree Selection Guide for San Jose Area

Fresh fruit from your own backyard is everyone’s dream. But many find the idea of planting and successfully growing fruit as a insurmountable task. Not so! Pick the right tree and plant at the right time – and you will be enjoying ripe and healthy snacks straight from the vine in no time!

First, what type of soil do you have? Certain soils are best for certain trees:

Sandy: peaches, pomegranates, apricots, plums, almonds, grapes, ad nectarines.
Loam: All trees, especially walnut and cherries.
Clay: Apples, plums, pears, apricots, almonds and peaches (grafted on plum rootstock).

Next, determine climate:

Here in the San Jose area, November through February the temperature will drop. To determine your climate (climates vary across Bay Area, especially Inland), count or estimate the number of chill hours your area receives. Chill hours are the total number of hours the temperature will dip below 45 degrees. Fruit trees require different levels of chill hours to produce the best fruit.

High – Trees that require 800 to 1,200 chill hours are apples, some apricot varieties, cherries, and pears

Moderate – 500 to 800 chill hours; some apricots, nectarines, plums, peaches, and some varieties of apples

Low – 500 hours or less; almonds, persimmons, pomegranates, figs, and some varieties of apples

Third, consider pollination requirements:

Some trees are self-pollinating, others require cross-pollinaters to be planted nearby. If the fruit tree requires a cross pollinator, and you don’t have one, you likely won’t get fruit.

Self-pollinating: Figs, peaches, nectarines, pomegranates and most varieties of apricots.

Needs cross-pollination- Almonds, apples, pears, plums, pluots and cherries. However, there are some varieties of these that do not need pollinators. If you are purchasing your own trees from a nursery, ask a nursery professional for assistance.

If a cross pollinator is needed for the fruit tree, you need space to plant both of them. Since space may be an issue, a suggested alternative is to plant fruit trees that have multiple grafts on them. You can purchase an apple tree that has up to 4 different varieties grafted onto the same tree. Again, ask your nursery professional to point you in the right direction for these trees, or contact your Arbortek Trees team of arborists for advice.

Will you have enough room when the trees are mature?

Walnuts – trees grow up to 30’ tall
Peaches – up to 15’ tall
Nectarines – up to 15’ tall
Figs – up to 30’ tall
Pomegranate – up to 20’ tall
Apples – up to 20’; dwarfing at 14’
Pears – up to 20’; dwarfing at 15’
Cherries – up to 20’, dwarfing at 12’
Apricots and plums – up to 18’; dwarfing at 14’

If you live in an urban area, you must consider city or county restrictions. Learn more about San Jose tree planting restrictions, in our Dummies Guide to Tree Planting in the Bay Area.

Lastly, make sure you have enough light.

Fruit trees need six hours a day during the growing season (when leaves are on).

Now you’ve determined the tree, it’s time to plant. Call San Jose tree experts, Arbortek Trees if you’d like to leave the planting to the professionals. Be sure to plant in winter, before the trees break dormancy.

Why Removing Deadwood Is Worth Every Penny

As we discussed in our previous blog on how to winterize trees, we explained that a tree is still alive and needs to remain healthy during dormant season. Removing deadwood is a vital part of the tree winterizing process.


Let’s discuss why we remove deadwood from trees…

Deadwood removal is preventative tree care. It is the process of removing dead branches and limbs from trees, in order to prevent tree decay, insect & pest infestation, tree disease, and preserve the tree’s natural resources. It also helps the aesthetic appeal of the tree. Simply stated, removing deadwood makes your tree investment count!

Removing dead branches and damaged tree limbs encourages wound closure and prevents diseases from entering the tree. Many homeowners wait until a severe storm snaps dead branches off the tree. This exposes the heartwood of the tree. The rough ends of the broken limbs and branches make a perfect home for unwanted insects. Water is also able to stand here, which creates moisture that favors fungus and decay. Trunk rot anyone? No thanks!

But dead wood is not just broken or damaged limbs…

Deadwood RemovalDeadwood is also a natural process for many fast growing trees such as locusts, silver maples, and birch trees. Interior branches receive less sunlight and are more prone to cold damage during winter. The tree sends more sap to those branches which support the tree. Eventually the sap supply to the less productive branch is cut off, and the branch dies. If the branch is more than 1” in diameter and breaks off, it leaves a large wound.


Where to look for deadwood removal in your yard…

Focus on trees that are in your immediate front or backyard, and trees that are in high-use areas such as near a deck, patio, fire pit, or sidewalk.

All wood will eventually decay, but this process takes too long in urban settings to be safe. Dead branches become brittle which makes them prone to breaking off during storms and even light winds. A branch may cause property damage or injury when it snaps. To reduce the risk of property damage and liability, focus on trees that could fall on power lines, buildings, vehicles, and passerby’s.

Are there benefits to keeping deadwood on my property?

When deadwood is removed from the canopy, you may consider keeping it on the property. The nutrient bed benefits the landscape by encouraging a forest soil microbiology. The soil keeps moisture longer, yet drains better. It increases the ability of your trees and other surrounding plants to absorb nutrients from the soil. You will see healthier foliage and less tree disease in the future when employing this method.

If creating a natural woodlands in your yard is a priority, seek the advice of a certified arborist. While keeping the deadwood is beneficial, placement is key for building a sustainable eco-system.tree-167489_1280

If you are not confident in your skills for tree pruning, deadwood or tree removal, please call San Jose’s tree experts – Arbortek Trees. We are local, licensed, ISA certified, and insured – and we care a lot about the health of our Santa Clara County communities’ trees!

Preparing your Trees for El Nino

Preparing Trees for El Nino

Forecasters everywhere have been predicting that 2015 will serve Californians an El Niño to remember. In fact, The Weather Channel recently forecasted that it could last well into the spring of 2016!

Everyone will need to prepare for the influx of rains in different ways – if you’ve got a creek, get those sandbags ready – and those with trees on their property also need to take special precautions. So grab a notebook and a pen, and take note of which of these checklist items are appropriate for the trees in your yard. Do everything you can do to prepare your trees for what could be the very, very rainy season ahead:

1. Clear Everything Near the Roof. If there are any branches overhanging your roof or touching it – get rid of them.

2. Prune the Big Ones. Big rains often come with big winds. Have large trees – like those giant pine trees in the front yard – structurally pruned to allow the wind to pass through them safely.

3. Clean them up. If you see any dead branches – or those that are on their way, remove them before they fall. Solidify young trees. Those saplings you picked up at the water conservation event this spring? They haven’t been in the ground long, so make sure they – or any younger trees – are well-staked to withstand the winds.

4. Make Sure They’re All Healthy. Inspect your trees’ health. Are there dead branches at the top? Decaying or soft roots at the base? Those could be signs that the trees’ health is in decline.

If you’re not sure how to assess any aspect of your trees’ health – or would rather entrust it to the experts, be sure and contact a certified arborist today. It’s always better to be glad you did, rather than wish you had!

How To Be Unpopular in the Tree Trimming World

Bad Tree Trimming | How to Be Unpopular in the Tree Trimming WorldPoor Rodney Dangerfield. The late “I can’t get no respect” comedian apparently found he wasn’t popular close to home, either.

“I looked up my family tree,” he said, “and found out I was the sap.”

In the tree-trimming world, nobody cares if you’re the sap in your family: what makes you unpopular has a lot more to do with blunders that hurt, even kill, the trees that you’re supposed to nurture to health. Consider hiring a certified arborist, otherwise you might be dealing with tree-harming issues like this:

  • Overdoing It: Too much of a good thing – whether watering or thinning – can quickly become a healthy tree’s downfall by opening the door to injuries, disease, and insects. Over-watering can weaken soil and inviting root problems and decay; over-thinning can take away a tree’s natural shade and let in too much sunlight, which can lead to splitting bark.
  • Topping: Not many living things can thrive when they lose 50 (or more!) percent of their source of nourishment – in a tree’s case, its photosynthesizing crown. That’s just one of many reasons that topping (removing the top of a tree’s leader stem) is dangerous to both the tree and a trimmer’s reputation. Not to mention, 50% of the Earth’s land biology lives in the tops of trees! Meg Lowman, also known as “Canopy Meg,” from the California Academy of Sciences wrote a blog about this rather unknown study here.
  • Damaging Bark or Soil: Carelessness isn’t smiled upon in almost any industry, and in tree-trimming, it’s no different. Parking your truck too close to the tree or using automated tools carelessly can cause a lot of damage, from compacted soil (that doesn’t allow water or air in) or injured bark.
  • Stubbing Out: Stubbing out, or snipping the tips of a branch, is no good, either – it often results in a single branch being replaced by several more. When that happens all over the tree, you’re looking at excessive regrowth, which is neither attractive nor healthy.

Well, there you have it. Hopefully this article has saved you from being unpopular in the tree-trimming world!

Sudden Limb Drop……

sudden limb dropLimbs can fail due to heavy and unnecessary loads of foliage or genetic defect, but there is another cause happening all around the Bay Area. It is called “sudden limb drop phenomena,” or sometimes referred to as “sudden branch drop.”

The phenomena causes limbs to break commonly on hot and windless days, with no obvious external signs of defect or trauma to the tree. The inner wood is broken bluntly (round and flat breakage), as opposed a breakage with sharp splintering.

Arborists studying sudden limb drop, or sudden branch drop, have found no consistent causes or visible warning signs. Some arborists theorize that sudden branch drop may be caused by change in branch movement, moisture changes, ethylene gas released inside the branches, however there are still no definitive answers.

So what can you do about it? First understand which trees commonly suffer from sudden limb drop. They include, but not limited to:

Eucalyptus Quercus
Ulmus Procera
Fagus Sylvatica

Next, reduce the risk. Trees are living organisms and arborists can not always detect when, and which limbs will fall. But we can imply measures for prevention of sudden limb drop the best we can.

1) Prune at risk tree limbs for crown thinning.
2) Install a cable system to limit motion and share the load with other limbs or nearby trees.
3) Request an Arbortek Arborist to visit your property to identify at-risk trees.