Each winter, backyard and commercial fruit tree growers face the inevitable task of pruning their fruit trees.

“This pruning period of mid-December to March 1st is crucial for the tree to produce great fruit next summer,” states Grant McCarty, Local Foods and Small Farms Educator for Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and Winnebago. “It’s also a task that growers can be hesitant to do as they may fear they are making the wrong cut or possibly damaging the tree.”

Pruning fruit trees requires knowing the type of tree you have with factoring in the right shape you need. Central leader style is the most common shape on apple and pear while open-center or vase shapes do well on peach and cherry. “Sometimes the reason your tree is not producing fruit is it’s in the improper shape or needs to be pruned more” McCarty continues.

To help residents this winter, University of Illinois Extension will be offering it’s popular “Intro to Fruit Tree Pruning” class in a zoom-webinar format on three different dates: December 17 (12:00-1:30PM), January 20 (12:00-1:30PM), and January 26(6:00-7:30PM). In this online format, participants will learn the basics of pruning, tools to use, and strategies to consider for their trees. “The class is designed for those trees that have just been planted in 2020, never been pruned, or have not been pruned for a couple of years” McCarty states “We also try to incorporate participants photos of their trees in the presentation. So, they can visualize what cuts they need to make”.

Cost for the class is $5. For more information and to register, please visit go.illinois.edu/IntroFruitTreePruning or call 815-235-4125.