Youth Farm News: Pruning at MPG Ranch

This weeks blogging Duet. Photo by Cori Ash
This week we’ve got a dynamic duo of bloggers: Tracy and Jerra Lee. They’re both 17, and they are working hard on the MPG ranch this spring. They want to tell you about some the lessons they’ve learned about pruning – tis the season for it y’all.   So read up, you may learn a thing or two.    – Cori

Last week at MPG Ranch, we pruned the old orchard, located oddly enough by the Orchard house.  We pruned over thirty different trees, some apple, pear, cherry and apricot.  Each type of tree grows in a special way so the different kinds need to be pruned differently.

Fruit tree pruning: when pruning a fruit tree there are many shapes and styles to choose from and there are certain things to look for. The three main pruning structures are central leader, modified central leader, and open central.

  • A central leader is the main vertical leader with branches coming off the trunk in a sort of Christmas tree shape.
  • A modified central leader has a leader with lateral branches that kind of swirl around the tree.
  • An open center is a tree that has a goblet shape, and there are a few main leaders all heading in different directions.

The trees at the MPG orchard are were mainly modified central leaders and open centers.

Jake and Courtney jamming and pruning. Photo by Tracy

The main thing we  removed were branches — cracked branches, broken branches, sickly branches, and those branches that grow south rather than north – they had to go.  Other branches that should be removed are water sprouts, and any branches that grow up from below the graft union. The water sprouts are the ones that grow straight up, and you would know the branches that grow from below the graft union because they grow up from the ground at the base of the tree. We also pruned double leaders or co-dominant stems, because they are competing for the leader position.  You want one dominant leader stem, especially with young trees.

What else to think about?  Good question!

Branches that are rubbing or overlapping — remove the less ideal branch or branches. One of the main goals of pruning is to allow foliage maximum access to sunlight. There’s also keeping tree height low enough so you can harvest the fruit, and maintaining overall tree health by removing the dead stuff.

As far as the experience, we thought it was fun, but our muscles were sore at the end of the day.  Doing this everyday would be tough work!

To read more about the MPG Youth Crew or MPG Ranch check out at the MPG website.

If you would like more information about the Youth Farm and our goings-on, please check us out and, and check out more blog posts!