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I have an Apricot tree that has been in the ground about 3-4 years and is 6-7 feet high. I want to give it its winter prune but I am confused as to how much to take off. I know these are different to peach trees and fruit on spurs but all my main branches seem to finish as a spur with 5 or 6 little branches which I assume are the fruiting spurs? If I cut these off to shorten last years growth and to reduce the height will I lose all next years fruit? I have read that I should cut back last years growth and open up the center but I dont want to cut back all the leggy branches to find I have cut off all the fruiting spurs.

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Never make a cut without a reason.  When in doubt, don't.

So it is just starting to be a mature tree with good fruit production. And yes, those thick buds are flower (fruit) buds that have not started to swell (break dormancy) yet.  And good for you to ask because people prune off apricot buds and then wonder why they get no apricots.  Those clusters, spurs, have a 3 year productive life.  So after that you will want to cut back heavily to promote new growth and new spur formation on one year old wood.  Eventually branch length may give you no choice but to prune it back to a crotch---but that is for next or subsequent years.

Additionally there is minor fruit formation (often single fruit) on crappy thin, twiggy lateral branches that are often mistakenly removed, especially from trunk or upright branches.  I am starting to think the sweetest fruit may come from these one and two fruit branches.  So just leave them be.  If they really are just crappy nonproductive twigs they will dry up this season and you can easily swipe them off with no worries.

First, 6-7 feet height.  Is that at or under the height you want?  If yes, then height control is not necessary this year.

The fruit on the ends (of one year old wood) will bend the branches down with weight.  You will want to thin the fruit when they are dime to nickle sized 3-5" apart to improve fruit size and prevent fruit touching.  Just let them drop to the ground.

There may not be much if any pruning needed this year.  Broken branches (back to crotch at least a third diameter of that being removed or 1/4" above a bud), any diseased (not likely) or crossed branches (common, remove one).  Suckers (remove any time as soon as spotted).  Water spouts have two schools of thought: remove as unproductive [these make good scions due to vigorous upward growth], or leave in place because they produce sugars that significantly add to the taper of the branch they are on and they can be bent with a weight or string laterally to produce a productive branch.  I am with the latter school of thought.  They can and should be removed once they get big and long and start to cross branches to prevent abrasions.  Finally you prune for light penetration...which does not look like an issue on that tree.

Thank you this is so helpful, I appreciate the advice.


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