Apple Tree Grafting and Pruning

Did you know that an apple tree can produce fruit for up to 200 years!



Now is it as easy as planting a tree and just having apples grow every year? Definitely not.

A lot of upkeep goes into making sure our apple trees actually produce delicious apples every single fall, and that work starts in the spring with two different processes called tree grafting and pruning.



So what exactly is apple tree grafting?



In simple terms, grafting is the process of taking one tree piece and attaching it to another one. We do this when we want to introduce new apple varieties into our orchard by planting new trees.. But why do we do this?



Grafting a certain variety onto a specific rootstock allows us to control the size of the tree. For example, if we want a certain variety of apple to grow, but it would normally yield a huge tree, we instead graft it onto a rootstock that grows smaller, so that we can have the kind of apple we want but with a reasonable size tree.



When planting our trees, we tend to space them out by about 2 meters (6 feet) since this makes the most sense with the size of trees we have. If we had bigger trees, we’d have to space them out further, and therefore use more acres of land for a smaller amount of trees, which isn’t ideal. By controlling the size of our trees, we can maximize the amount of fruit being produced in our orchard.

So what does pruning have to do with this? And what is pruning?


Pruning involves trimming down branches and removing fruit buds, another way to control the size of trees. The difference here is we do it to our mature trees that have already been producing fruit, which means we might completely cut off some branches, or remove all the bottom buds of a branch, at this time of year, so that the tree doesn’t try to grow to full in the fall. Doing this also allows the remaining buds to disperse more horizontally and have better access to sunlight, maximizing fruit production.


So just to summarize, grafting is something we do when we’re planting new trees and want specific varieties to grow a specific size. Pruning is the upkeep we do with our mature trees to make sure they don’t grow too big and have too many fruits on them. Both of these processes are things we have to do right now in the spring, to make sure we have the best apples possible in the fall!


At Quinn Farm, we’ve managed to grow our orchard to over 10,000 apple trees, with over 20 varieties!

Go check out our Youtube video to find out more about apple pruning: