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Time to prune the fruit trees: Let University of Illinois Extension help you this winter with upcoming programs

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 counties. “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 while factoring in the right shape you need. Central leader style is the most common shape on apple and pear trees, while open-center or vase shapes do well on peach and cherry trees. “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 on three different dates, two of the programs will be in person and one will be offered as a Zoom webinar. The in-person programs are Tuesday, February 1 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Elizabeth Community Building, HWY 20 W. Elizabeth, IL, and Tuesday, February 8 from 10 Noon at the Freeport Public Library, 100 E. Douglas Street, Freeport, IL. The Zoom webinar will be offered on Friday, February 11 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Participants will learn the basics of pruning, which tools to use, and strategies to consider for their trees. “The class is designed for those trees that have just been planted in 2021, 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 or call 815-235-4125.