How to Prune Apricot Trees
Step # 1
If you have newly planted apricot trees, the first thing you need to do, is to cut them back to 30 inches. The side shoots should be trimmed to one bud. You can also apply a coat of white latex to protect them from the sun.
Step # 2
If it is a year-old sapling, remove all broken twigs, 24 inches from the trunk. Use pruner blades to make a crisp cut. The cut should be approximately 1/5th inch above the connecting branches, and 1/4th inch above a bud.
This pruning must be done before the buds have swollen or opened. Early spring is the right time to start the pruning, in the tree's active growth phase. This helps the cuts to cure faster.
Step # 3
You need to locate the upright leader stem of the tree. This is the natural extension of the trunk, that forms the middle skeletal spine of the tree. There might be two or more co-dominating central stems.
You need to prune these extra stems or twigs so that only the main upright twig remains. You must locate the exact position of making the cut, that is, ¼th inch above the junction of the unwanted co-dominant branches and the main trunk or stem.
Step # 4
Trim the branches that attach to the main trunk with less than 45° angle. Also, prune the branches having narrow crotches, just 1/5th inch above the junction with the main trunk or leader branch.
Step # 5
Make the tree look thin and slim by reducing each branch above 1/4th inch from the dormant bud. Retain 3-5 branches from the main branch as the 'rib' of the tree. While making this cut, you need to chisel crisply, ensuring that you don't break any twigs, or scratch the bark.
Step # 6
Once this heavy pruning is done, allow the young sapling to grow completely during the first growing season. You can repeat the same procedure next year.
Step # 7
During the second year, start pruning the twigs that are growing straight up along with the leader branch. The cut must be 1/5th inch above the junction with the main branch. Remove the twigs growing inwards, and also cut the branches growing downwards. Just retain the leader branch with few branches attached with it.
Step # 8
When the apricot tree has completely matured, clear broken, damaged, and diseased branches. Observe the tree in early spring, and remove scrawny twigs on branches, growing downwards and attached with the trunk.
Step # 9
Matured apricot trees need to be tip-pruned every third year. Make light pruning cuts just 1/5th inch above the dormant or unopened bud on the branch. Trimming the tips by 6-12 inches helps in growth of the tree, and better fruit bearing and flowering potential.
Step # 10
Always avoid pruning during the 'off years' of growth. Remove weak limbs, dead and damaged wood, weak buds, sprouts, and twigs during any time of the year, for getting maximum output from the plant.