Newly planted school orchard in Tracadie-Sheila, New Brunswick. Photo Credit: Manon Losier

Newly planted school orchard in Tracadie-Sheila, New Brunswick. Photo Credit: Manon Losier

This question is from Manon Losier, who is involved in a school orchard planting initiative in Tracadie-Sheila, New Brunswick. Manon attended one of Orchard People’s fruit tree care webinars with Tree Canada in 2013.

Question: “Hi Susan, I wanted to verify with you about winter pruning our fruit trees.  We have had lots and lots of snow in the past month which is great for skiing but very difficult to plan my winter pruning!  I have included 2 pictures I took about an hour ago of our trees.  Half of them are completely covered in snow and the others are about half covered.  Is it better to wait until the snow is a bit more melted?  I’m worried about winter pruning the trees too late in the spring time and that the buds have started to break? I’m also worried about it being too wet and that some disease will start. I’ve been going back and forth for about 2 weeks now and I’m not sure what to do!  Do you have any advice regarding pruning in those conditions.

I love your new book and refer to it constantly.  Thank you very much and have a nice day. Manon”

 Answer: “I love your emails, your pictures and your questions! And that’s wonderful you bought the book. I’m so happy you are enjoying it. It’s absolutely fine to wait until the snow melts to prune your trees. You just want to prune before the trees leaf out. Even if you have to prune and the flowers have started to emerge, that’s not the worst thing in the world. In fact, some orchardists in Niagara, Ontario prefer pruning their fruit trees (especially peaches and apricots) during flowering time because then they can see which branches died off during our cold winters. I can see from your pictures that your young trees need some good pruning this year. Enjoy using your new pruning skills!”