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At the end of summer harvesting, it is time to prune the apricot tree.

This fruit tree came from Central Asia and China. In Europe it has been spreading since Roman times, especially in the Mediterranean areas, but it grows also in Africa and America. It prefers harsh winters but fears spring frosts as it flowers – with white or light pinkish flowers – very early. Among the fruit trees, only the almond tree precedes it.

Its reproduction takes place by grafting, mainly on plum, myrobalan or peach trees. There are early and late ripening cultivars, with fruit color ranging from yellow to orange and shades of red.

The farmers, therefore, often have to know how to simultaneously manage plants with different characteristics in terms of growth, vegetation, fruiting and this must be taken into account in order not to risk unknowingly limiting the production of some cultivars.



The apricot tree has some features, which are common to all varieties. The apical dominance usually gets rapidly lost during spring growth, which is intermittent (two-three or even four vegetative cycles). The formation of the various productive and vegetative branches takes place in it.

Therefore, due to this alternating growth, the apricot tree does not tolerate too rigid forms of farming and also suffers from large cuts. Due to these, it tends to produce ‘gums’. So you have to prune softly, equipping yourself with shears and loppers rather than with saws and chain pruners. It is essential to make clean and precise cuts and then use quality tools with well-sharpened blades, which do not hurt the wood and should be disinfected while moving from one tree to another.

To help the plant heal the cuts in its wood and to avoid fungal or bacterial infections, it is advisable to apply mastic (of the type for grafts) on the wounds and leave a stump on the branch being as long as the diameter of the cut. Above all it is advisable to intervene between September and October, when the vegetative season ends, up to when the leaves fall.



It is necessary to modulate the interventions during the year, between ‘dry pruning’ in winter and ‘green pruning’ in spring and summer, so as to favor the development of the fruit-bearing branches and keep the vigorous crown under control, which, according to the angle of insertion of the branches, determines the posture of the plant: assurgent, intermediate and expanded.

In general, if the growth is vigorous, the plant is treated more lightly. Vice versa, if the growth is weak and there are flowering buds, pruning is more effective. The main intervention could be carried out from the end of January until the vegetative restart, but for the reasons already explained it is preferable to postpone at least the biggest cuts until the end of the harvest.

In the warm months, green pruning is carried out in three different moments: from April to May, together with the thinning of the fruits, from July to August, after harvesting, and from September to October. These interventions consist in topping and thinning out the ventral branches and allow to control the lighting, vigor and size of the plant. In addition, they stimulate the increase in the number of early branches, as well as in the flower differentiation of the buds.



Pruning interventions also differ according to the type of cultivation. Apricot orchards in hilly and foothill areas, to allow harvesting entirely from the ground, generally have a form of delayed vase cultivation, which more favors the way the plant grows, with the variants of the regular vase with three branches and semi-free with 4-5 branches.

On the other hand, in the plains, where it is possible to use the harvesting wagon, the wall shape known as a palmette is more frequent. It requires a support structure with poles and wires, but the high ‘wall’ allows you to better protect the plants from spring frosts.



As with other fruit trees, pruning must be modulated according to the age of the plant, with diversified interventions when it is young (up to three years of age) with a breeding pruning, and a production pruning when it is adult (from four years of age). Let’s see the interventions recommended during the growth of the apricot with some differences in the two forms of cultivation with delayed vase and palmette.

In green pruning the best shoots are identified to form the branches of the structure, removing or shortening the others. In the first two years, action is taken only to eliminate the vigorous and competing shoots with the main axis, with the opening of the insertion angles of the main branches in the retarded vessel and favoring the extension of the branches of the two main stages in the palmette.

When the plant is in its third year, put in the retarded pot, in winter its central axis is locked to favor the growth of the foliage in volume, while at the end of summer its central axis is definitively eliminated by diverting it to a lateral branch. In the palmette system, in the winter of the second and third year, some vigorous branches are tilted or tied to bring them to production.

Production pruning begins in the fourth year. In the retarded pot, shortening and back cuts are made on old wood, removing the excess branches. In the palmette, once the third stage is completed, winter pruning is carried out to favor the alternation between long (60-80 cm) and short (20-30 cm) branches on each main branch, thus guaranteeing a good vegetative-productive covering.



The root-suckers are removed in spring with a cut at the base. Even the aftershoots are given a nice cut at the base, in particular those inserted in the ventral part of the branches, both in dry and green pruning. The exception, in the adult apricot, is when an aftershoot is used for the renewal of exhausted or damaged branches.

On the vegetative branches, with predominantly woody buds, shortening is useful to reinvigorate a branch or cover bare areas with vegetation, but they should not be pruned with back cuts to avoid excessive vegetative growth.

The mixed branches are usually productive and bear both vegetative and flowering buds (in the final part). They are not pruned in winter and in the green pruning the excess ones are thinned out or clipped to favor the emission of early branches. In cultivars with ascending habit, the ‘bending’ of the mixed branches is often carried out to facilitate the formation of the brindilli and flowering darts in the basal part of the productive branches.

As for the the early branches, formed on shoots with strong growth from an axillary meristem that does not evolve into a bud, those on the flexible part are removed during fruit thinning so as to reduce any damage due to frictions. The short brindilli branches, if they are only vegetative, are generally not removed as they tend to become reproductive over the years or to renew the part of the treetop weakened by strong shortening cuts. If, on the other hand, the brindilli are mixed, with lateral flower buds, they are removed in winter if in excess. Even on the darts, twigs which can be up to 10 cm long on branches of two or more years, if only vegetative, generally no interventions are made while waiting for them to become productive. On the other hand, the highly productive flowering dart is thinned out at the end of winter, while the branches on which they are inserted are shortened at the end of summer, with a back cut, to stimulate their renewal.


In the catalog of Campagnola you can find all the necessary tools for good pruning: manual, electric and pneumatic ones in the PROFESSIONAL, GREEN and SMART lines.

If manual pruning is carried out, the double-cut S2 shears and the curved anvil-cut S21 lopper are recommended. If, on the other hand, facilitated pruning is carried out, the battery-powered products include our Stark M and SL32 shears and our T-Rex chain pruner; finally, among the compressed air products, we point out the double-cut Super Star model shears and the Star 50 – F/6 U loppers.

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