Preparing for Orchard Pruning

February 24, 2022

By Jack Kertesz

Within a few weeks, the threat of our most frigid temperatures should abate and pruning work can begin with the assurance of less damage to trees. This is a good time to take the opportunity to review the condition of all tools used to make these cuts and apply the appropriate response. 

Proper sharpening of most bypass model pruners is assisted by complete disassembly. This allows for a more thorough cleaning of all the moving parts, honing of the blade, oiling, and most importantly, correctly positioning and tensioning all the pieces, so the tool functions properly.

I like to remind people that even the most expensive model of pruner on the market will not make the best cuts if improperly tuned. It can be a bit daunting at first. There are a couple of videos in this article that could help you to adjust them or point you to your next purchase.  

Saw blades are difficult, or in the case of impulse-hardened teeth, impossible to sharpen. I find it best to reserve a dedicated saw for pruning, especially while climbing in a tree. I keep a “utility” saw on hand for moments when I may inadvertently grind the blade into the soil or just want to make a quick cut. 

Lightweight pole saws of around the 6-foot length are something that I have promoted for several years now. They help to extend your reach and allow for two-handed, added muscle. They are also pretty easy to fabricate. Models of Corona, Stihl or Samurai replacement pole saw blades are reasonably priced, well made, and not too difficult to locate. You might get ideas from this link from the Maine Tree Crop Alliance. 

With a good understanding of how to prune fruit trees, it can be really rewarding to get out in pleasant weather and begin that task. The appropriate tools, in proper operating condition, just might help to reduce fatigue, increase your work output, put a smile on your face and help your trees thrive.

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