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Fruit Trees in Permaculture: Pruning Pears

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

Hey there! You may remember that we had written about our experience with growing pears in a previous blog. Basically, to recap, we had not pruned out Pear trees ever, and they were terribly overgrown. As a result, we had to cut them back severely, leaving a few scaffolds and branches in the shape we desired, cutting away everything else. In the process, we missed one year of fruiting. But now the tree has grown back again, and its time to prune is before the fruiting season. So here we talk about how to prune the pear tree!

This picture below, shows how our tree looks in early November. Many of the branches have grown out. The tree has lost most of its leaves, but the branches have not started to swell yet (buds haven't burst). So this is the right time to prune the pear tree.

To prune the tree, we removed all branches below 18 inches from the ground. We also removed all the suckers growing at the base of the tree. Water suckers should be cut and removed as and when they appear. One doesn't need to wait till pruning time to remove the suckers - they literally suck the life out of the tree, so remove them as soon as you notice them. Then we removed strong shoots growing towards the centre. Remember the centre needs to be empty to allow air and light to come into the tree. We also removed all the spurs growing on the underside - you don't need those. We kept the lateral young shoots, going outwards. Finally, we shortened the previous year's growth by one third, to a bud facing in the outward direction.

The result was an open goblet shaped tree, as you can see below. The pruned tree is at a manageable height. The branches will bear fruit, and with the weight of the fruit, they will bend outwards, opening up the goblet. This will bring more light and air into the centre of the tree, and bring the branches lower for ease of fruit picking.

Come December, you can see in the photos below, that the branches are starting to swell and the buds starting to burst. We are confident that we have pruned the trees correctly and we should see a good flowering and fruiting season. Keep watching this space for more!

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