How to prune Almond Trees
As it happens in most fruit trees, we prune (or “train”) young almond trees during their first or second year in order to determine their shape (crown skeleton). The shape is very important and can affect production quantity, quality and ease of harvesting or other farming activities. On the other hand, we prune mature almond trees in order to maintain their shape and open up the inner part of the tree, so that aeration and sunlight penetration will be improved. We also prune mature almond trees in order to remove broken, weak or diseased branches, and of course get rid of old wood, water sprouts or suckers. All the previous operations promote fruit production in the long term. The frequency of mature tree pruning ranges from once a year to once every two years.
The most suitable shape of almond crown is vase. Vase is consisted of 3-4 main branches, which are formed at a height of 28-31 inches (70-80 cm) above the ground and have 50 to 60 degrees angle with the trunk, so that mechanical harvesting will be facilitated. Each branch has two secondary branches. The first is formed at a distance of 16 inches (40 cm) from the base and the second at a distance of 24-31 inches (60-80 cm) and at the opposite direction to the first. In general, the tree crown configuration must be completed in the minimum possible time and with minor operations.
The almond tree usually comes into light fruition much sooner than other trees do. If the tree crown is properly determined from the beginning, the tree will continue to increase in size and give greater production every year for many years. The almond tree bears fruit in shoots that have a productive life of about 3-4 years. Consequently, pruning should aim at renewing the fruitful wood and the formation of new fruitful branches to replace those who have ceased to be productive. As a rule of thumb, 20% of the canopy should be pruned back each year in order to allow new wood to grow. Our aim is to have at any time numerous 1 year old shoots of 14-20 inches (35-52 cm), as these shoots will produce nuts for the next 4 years.
Old and weak trees, lacking vigorous vegetation, can usually be strengthened after excessive pruning. However, if the pruning is severe, there will be an increase in growth of water sprouts on the following year. In general, water sprouts should be removed, because they often shade the fruit bearing parts of the tree, which results in lower production.
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9. Pruning Almond Trees
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