OFRE prides itself on connecting homeowners with fruit pickers and sharing the harvest. This year, OFRE’s Orchard Committee has set a new goal. A goal to help homeowners and fruit pickers with a mutual challenge – fruit tree maintenance. Specifically, tree pruning.
Our volunteers awe at the variety and quality of trees in the greater Edmonton area. Some trees stretch to the sky’s limit. When high up in the tree, picking fruit, arms stretch out and your fingers are so close to touching that perfect apple. But, in almost all cases, we are unable to reach all the apples and it can be frustrating. The fruit that our volunteers cannot reach, eventually falls to the ground. Homeowners and volunteers alike experience frustration and disappointment at the food waste.
Fruit Tree Maintenance Knowledge Base
As OFRE members build their knowledge base in fruit tree maintenance, frustration levels will drop, rather than fruit. A side benefit: our pickers get better access to the best fruit. Needless to say, safety increases when not poking eyes out on intertwined branches. Homeowner benefits include trees that are healthier, more productive, and aesthetically appealing. Well-maintained trees increase the homeowners’ property value. Apples trees become an asset, rather than a liability.
OFRE’s First Ever Tree Pruning Workshop
It was a cold evening on April 30th, when OFRE held its first ever pruning workshop. Mike Johnson, and Alex McCormick visited a house in Westmount. Armed with several eager OFRE volunteers to learn the basics of pruning, we confronted a 40’ tall tree. Massively overgrown, due to poor pruning for the past 10 years, this tree made a great teaching tool. OFRE took this opportunity to show how to prune a tree back to health, after years of improper pruning.
OFRE began the night with a discussion about our past fruit tree pruning experiences. We shared reasons for undertaking pruning in the first place. Together, we identified several common goals including:
- height reduction to increase the accessibility of fruit,
- thinning to improve tree structure and maintain tree health,
- clearance pruning to reduce the potential for the tree branches invading surrounding homes and yards.
Tree Pruning Fundamentals
We discussed the fundamentals of tree pruning including:
- the amount of material that should be removed at one time,
- common pruning strategies,
- the identification of branches requiring pruning,
- the location and execution of pruning cuts.
As a result of past improper pruning the tree had developed poor structure. Poor tree structure limits the accessibility of fruit, and increases the risk of branch failure under heavy fruit loads.
It was clear the damage to the tree could not be undone all at once. We began the process of canopy restoration and reduction pruning. While Alex performed the pruning, the group identified branches and stems requiring attention. We discussed the pruning points and cuts to be used. There were limitations on the amount of material we could remove. But, the pruning performed addressed the most significant issues. OFRE members started the process of restoring this tree to its former beauty and productivity!
The OFRE tree pruning workshop ran in partnership with TreeLink Arboriculture. TreeLink’s founder, ISA Board Certified Master Arborist, Alex McCormick, an expert arborist has joined OFRE. Now, he has already helped shape an OFRE’s homeowners’ tree. Alex can help you too! We invite you to visit: TreeLink Arboriculture
If you missed our first tree pruning workshop, but would like to participate in the next one, sign up for our Workshop Notifications.
We hope to see you at our next workshop!
The OFRE Team