Pruning In Agriculture – Benefits, Tips, and Ideas

Pruning in Agriculture and its importance

Pruning In Agriculture – Benefits, Tips, and Ideas

Pruning is the removal of plant parts like branches, buds, or roots for plant growth. It is referred to as the selective cutting away of a portion of a tree or shrub for horticultural production improvement. Pruning can affect the plant’s size and shape, quality and quantity of fruit, overall health, and even safety. It is common in orchard and vineyard management for flowering and fruiting improvement.

Pruning is the portion of a plant to improve plant growth. Then, it is done to divert a part of plant energy from one part to another part of the plant. Pruning is an excellent way of preventative maintenance for young and established plants. A regular pruning method protects plants, family, and property from injury, pests, and damage. It is an important part of a long-term maintenance strategy.

Pruning is removing some specific portions of tree-like roots, buds, or branches that are dead due to pests and disease for healthy plant development.

Below are the main reasons why pruning is so imperative;     

  • Pruning balances tree growth and fruit production
  • Pruning improves pest and disease management
  • Pruning manages the size of a tree

There are several reasons to prune, including, but not limited to;

  • Maintain plant health
  • Carefully cut out dead, dying, diseased or damaged wood.
  • Remove crossing or rubbing branches.
  • Maintain good air circulation within the plants.
  • Remove unwanted shoots, bypass pruner

A Step-by-Step Guide to Pruning in Agriculture, Benefits, Importance, Principles, Tips, Secrets, and Ideas

Guide to Pruning in Agriculture

Tools for Pruning

Pruning tools are required for garden pruning but purchasing good quality equipment is a solid investment for the gardener. There are many important items to have in your toolkit. Three main kinds are available that are the anvil, bypass, and parrot-bill. All of them have a safety catch that locks the blades in a closed position. Don’t buy cheap ones. They will break and not make the quality cuts you need in successful pruning. Generally, the anvil type has a straight-edged cutting blade. When cutting with them, gripping the stem to be pruned off as far back on the blades as possible will ensure a stronger cut and then poses less risk of damage to the tool. These hand pruners are for smaller plants.

Tools used to do the pruning are;

For purchase pruning tools it is probably best to limit the selection to the type of tools. The types of tools that you will use for pruning are;

  • Secateurs
  • Long-handled pruners
  • Aerial pruners
  • Handsaws
  • Hedge shears
  • Pruning knife

When to Prune Plants

Usually, pruning deadwood tree branches can be done at any time of year. Some woody plants tend to bleed profusely from cuts like mesquite and maple. Woody plants that flower early in the season have matured the year should be pruned right after flowering as later pruning will sacrifice flowers the following season. During this time that the tree is least susceptible to harm that can result from pruning. Though trees are susceptible to stress just like any other creature and removing their branches does cause damage to the tree. When the tree is dormant, less sap is lost and they are dormant as well, insects and fungus are less likely to further damage the tree. Certain species of trees need more precise timing and different methods for proper pruning. If you’re ever in doubt, contact a certified arborist instead of risking the tree’s safety.

Objects of Pruning

The pruning is done to fulfil the below objectives;

  • Training of young trees
  • Maintenance of grown-up trees i.e. to maintain the health of bearing plant
  • Bringing vigor in old trees
  • To remove the unproductive growth, because the plant bears flowers on a new shoot.
  • To ensure the production of a large number of healthy shoots.
  • To improve the flower production with quality.
  • It will force the eye bud to produce the strongest shoot.
  • To allow light and air to reach the center of the rose bush.
  • Pruning is to facilitate several cultural operations like hoeing, weeding, sterilization, and manuring.
  • To rejuvenate the old plants. Cut off the old plants from the base to get strong tree shoots.
  • Pruning keeps the optimum balance between vegetative and reproductive tree growth.
  • To ensure penetration of air and sunlight inside the canopy of the plants.
  • To get the desired size and canopy of the trees.
  • Pruning encourages the initiation of flowers and the bearing of fruits.
  • To remove overcrowded, damaging diseases and pests infested plant parts.
  • To overcome apical dominance and also encourage the axillary buds’ growth.
  • To improve the quality of the fruits and also establish a strong framework of fruit trees.
  • To avoid rubbing and bruising of branches.

Effect of Pruning on Plants

  • It increases new vegetative growth
  • In young trees, flowering will be delayed
  • In old trees, there will be new vegetative growth
  • Also, it reduces bearing surface are as a result tree remain dwarf which is compensated by accommodating more dwarf trees
  • Pruning also improves the size, quality, and color of fruits

Principles of Pruning in Agriculture

Principles of Pruning in Agriculture

The principal reasons for pruning are;

  • Young trees are pruned to train it to obtain the desired shape.
  • In old trees light heading back is done to encourage the flowering.
  • In bearing trees light pruning is done to stimulate growth.
  • All the diseased, weak, or dead branches must be removed.
  • The effect of breaking apical dominance on the growth of plants must be considered because the removal of apical buds breaks the apical dominance.
  • The extent of pruning must be based on the needs of new growth. The severe pruning encourages vigorous new growth.
  • The deciduous plants must be pruned during the dormancy of fruit plants.
  • To produce better blooms and fruits.
  • To develop a desired size or appearance. Prune to save room for interesting plant varieties and to keep plants from becoming leggy.
  • To train a young plant. Pruning now to encourage balanced growth saves effort later.
  • To rejuvenate, older, neglected shrubs. Removal of old, overcrowded stems encourages the growth of vigorous young ones.
  • Removal of dead or diseased wood keeps trees healthy.

Systems of Pruning in Agriculture

Heading back – Only tops of tree branches are headed back or cut off (light pruning).

Thinning out – Complete removal of a branches

Dehorning – Cutting away the limbs or thick major branches

Bulk pruning – It means heavy pruning all over the tree. For good fruit production, judicious heading back or thinning out must be done.

Importance of Pruning in Agriculture

The pruning involves the cutting of medium size branches to improve their overall quality. The professionals of the tree pruning service can easily recognize that which part of the tree requires pruning.

Allow adequate sunlight – After the cutting of tree branches, to an extent, a tree can allow adequate sunlight for the photosynthesis process.

Better flowering and fruit quality – In the orchards of fruits, pruning is a necessary task because you can expect better flowers and fruit quality from new branches. 

Overall appearance – After cutting the overgrown branches, a tree becomes attractive because they customize it in an attractive shape. Pruning is important to improve the life of a tree.

The Benefits of Pruning in Agriculture

Promote plant health – It removes dead and dying branches, allowing room for new growth and protecting property from damage. Also, it deters pest and animal infestation and also promotes the plant’s natural shape and healthy growth.

Maintain Plants and Landscapes – Pruning encourages healthy fruit and flower growth. Regular trimming develops hedge aesthetics and also keeps evergreens proportioned and dense. Such maintenance supports the property’s planned layout and appearance by controlling plant size and shape.

Protect Your Family and Property – Regular pruning method reduces the risk of storm damage to structures from broken branches. Pruning trees will protect your family from falling branches over walkways, driveways, and play areas. Also, this practice helps control pests, vermin, and snakes by reducing their habitat options.

Encourages fruit – Pruning fruit trees is the only method to get consistent, quality fruit production. Fewer tree branches cause a tree to push all of its energy into a fewer but larger fruit. It encourages more consistent fruit from a tree that wants to fruit every other year. Pruning every year gives trees thicker branches, and keeps the tree shorter, making that fruit easier to harvest.

Increases tree safety – Safety might be the important reason to prune, especially for larger trees. Large, dead, or damaged limbs can break and fall unexpectedly. These limbs must be removed before that happens. Limbs growing over the house or into power lines can cause damage that is very expensive to repair if they come down in a storm. A well-pruned tree has a stable branch structure, allowing it to better support its weight. Thorny shrubs encroaching onto walkways can be pruned back to a safer distance.

It Makes Them Healthier – If you prune away dying tree branches, it prevents the insects or other organisms that were harming those branches from infecting the rest of the tree. That can save the tree’s life, and also save you money on a replacement.

It can stimulate or Suppress Growth – You can prune trees in such a way that promotes new growth or suppresses unwanted growth.

Enhancing The Beauty of a Plant – Pruning reduces the amount of wood on a plant, making more energy available for the development of large and healthy flowers. If pruning is timed correctly, this will increase the number of young shoots that produce to bear flowers. Some shrubs have stems that are beautifully colored. Pruning encourages the growth of young stems.

Different Types of Pruning in Agriculture

There are several different types of pruning.

Thinning – This process removes branches at the base, right alongside the trunk. It is done to allow air and sunlight to penetrate the inner parts of the plant. Usually, this is done on plants with thick foliage or ones that have a large volume of stems and leaves.

Topping – This is a drastic procedure that removes most of the branches down to the trunk. Topping is used when training young trees to grow certain ways.

Raising – This mainly involves the trimming of low-hanging branches to create headroom for pedestrians, parked cars, or entryways. It is done by removing or reducing the tree’s lower branches. The raising process is commonly used in trees near commercial buildings and residential houses.

Reduction – This means trimming back a tree’s volume for safety reasons like creating space for power lines. It will reduce the size of a tree, often for clearance for utility lines. Compared to topping, it helps maintain the structural integrity of the tree. A selective pruning process that aims to decrease the height or spread of the plant. It is done to make plants look more attractive; minimize the risk of failure, and clear overgrowth in unneeded areas. The reduction method is not ideal for all plants and shrubs, so it is important to the species and health of the plants.

Cleaning – Cleaning is the removal of dead, dying, and diseased branches from the crown of a tree. This is mainly considered to be a selective kind of pruning that involves removing the dead, diseased, and broken branches or stems. It is ideal for established plants as there is no need to unnecessarily remove live stems.

Formative pruning – Formative pruning is also known as training and it refers to the process of shaping young trees. The main goal is to prune a tree to develop a balanced shape and a strong structure and will improve fruit growth. The exact shape, as well as the height and even the frequency of the formative pruning method (only once or each year during the period of the first 5 years), will vary depending on each crop type, and local growing conditions.

Dormant pruning – In temperate climate areas, this is also called winter pruning. Depending on the selecting crop, it is practiced each year during the dormant season or at the beginning of vegetation during the bud break stage. It is necessary for maintaining size and shape, removal of week branches, as well as for encouraging new growth.

Green pruning – It encourages new plant growth; summer pruning maintains the size of the tree or bush. It’s imperative for trees with a restricted form and important for other permanent crops to prevent overgrowing and allow for better air circulation, light penetration, and improvement of pest and disease management.

Restorative pruning – It is practiced once in a while when the trees or shrubs become neglected or overgrown. Though, renovation of an overgrown tree or shrub is best carried out during dormancy or at the beginning of vegetation. Also, it is recommended not to remove more than 25% of the fruit tree canopy, as bushes need hard pruning to a height of about 30 to 45 cm above the ground.

Fruit Trees Pruning in Agriculture/Horticulture

Pruning a fruit tree is the removal of selected parts of a fruit tree. It spans some horticultural methods.

Inspect Your Tree – In the late winter or early spring season, inspect the tree to see where it needs pruning. Take note of any tree branches that have grown over 2 feet. They will be unlikely to bear fruit again.

Identify Which Branches to Keep and Remove – Choose which branches to keep and which to remove based on health, shape, growth pattern, and personal preference.

Remove Unwanted Branches – By using loppers to remove dead tree branches, as well as any unnecessary new branches that might divert energy from the fruit-bearing ones.

When to Prune Fruit Trees

Generally, fruit trees don’t require pruning annually once they have been trained. For fruit trees, initial pruning is important to help young trees produce thick stems and also promote flowering. The best time for pruning fruit trees is at planting and in subsequent years, in the early spring season before buds break and trees are still dormant. This causes the new tree to grow low branches and the root system to keep the plant from getting top-heavy during establishment.

You can’t expect much fruiting in the first 2 to 3 years as the plant develops low branches for better fruiting. This training for young trees can take several forms, but the most common is central leader training. This training gives the tree a strong trunk and laterally branching stems that start 30 inches from the ground. The scaffold is formed by selecting a scaffold whorl, 4 to 5 balanced branches, which will form the base form of the tree. For growing a tree for its fruit, make pruning a high priority.

How to Prune Flowering Trees, Shrubs, and Vines

Generally, you can prune flowering plants at any time. Though, paying attention to when your plant blooms and pruning soon after will yield the showiest floral display.

Remove Unwanted Branches – Once the blooms fade, use shears or loppers to remove any dead, weak, or diseased branches.

Remove Suckers at the Tree Base – These are unlikely to produce hearty blooms.

Shape the Plant – Using shears, make heading cuts to shape the plant. Cut beyond a healthy bud, and angle the cut at 45 degrees. Prune spring-flowering trees right after they bloom and prune later flowering trees in the early spring season. Then, this helps the plants will have time to set new buds and flowers next season.

When and where to prune a flowering plant depends on when and where it blooms. Properly timing the pruning of flowering plants can make the difference between magnificent blooms next season, or every gardener’s fear of no flowers at all. The key is to find when and where the plant sets its buds for the next season. In general, prune after flowering is finished but before budding begins.

Timing to prune flowering plants

For most trees, the late winter or early spring season is the ideal time to prune.

Prune according to when they bloom – Trees and shrubs that flower before the end of June must be pruned immediately after flowering.

Other trees and shrubs, those which flower after the end of June, should be pruned in winter or early spring season before new growth starts. Certain plants can be lightly pruned before and after flowering.

Summer Pruning in Agriculture

This is an excellent system of pruning and it is done after the summer growth has abated, and the new growth has hardened a little. Usually late summer or early autumn.

Keep in mind your select shape of the tree and the number of leaders. Then, this can be done using string and pegs into the ground, weights hung from branches or struts between branches to hold them apart. When pruning, cut verticals off at to 3 to 4 buds, hopefully promoting fruiting spurs.

The advantage of summer pruning is that the energy of the plant goes into the fruit rather than into the growth, and also it lets more light into the tree for ripening. Timing is very important, if pruning is done too early (e.g., late spring and early summer), the tree may react by producing more growth and putting less energy into the fruit: the opposite of what is trying to be achieved.

Winter Pruning in Agriculture

Winter pruning takes place in the winter season when plants are dormant. The main advantage of having no leaves on the tree allows the shape of the limbs and growth to be seen easily. Apart from that, the winter pruning technique is much the same as in summer pruning.

Commonly Asked Questions about Pruning in Agriculture

Can a tree die from pruning?

Over pruning reduces the foliage that’s obtainable for making food for the rest of the plant. So, pruning may not kill plants directly, over pruned trees can die.

How do you prune a tree in the spring?

Pruning trees in the spring season can be safely done as long as you don’t remove more than 10% of the tree branches in the process.

What happens if you prune trees in the summer season?

Pruning during the growing season always stimulates new development. During summer’s heat, having to produce that ill-timed new flush of growth stresses a tree.

When should tree pruning be done?

The best time to pruning is anytime between late fall and early spring.

What is the main difference between tree trimming and pruning?

The terms pruning and trimming are used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. Pruning is removing the dead or infected branches or stems from their respective plant. On the other hand, trimming occurs when you are cutting back overgrown plants.

What is the purpose of pruning a tree?

The main purpose of pruning is to encourage healthy fruit and flower production for trees and shrubs.

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