Pruning a tree when it is young is a key part of avoiding problems later in life. However, improper pruning will damage your trees for life. Thus, you can't afford not to prune your trees, but you have to make sure that you do the job properly.
Keys for Root Whips
If you buy your trees as a root whip, you will have one trunk extending upward from a root base. Once this trunk gets to be at least two feet tall, you need to pinch off the trunk just above a bud. This will encourage the tree to start branching out.
If you buy a tree that has already started to branch out, then you want to leave it alone for the first year. This is the same guideline for root whips after you have pinched them off to encourage branching. This first year of growth is indispensable in promoting the proper formation of roots. Even if you see problem branches starting to form, you need to leave them alone for the first year. During the second year of growth, you can start to trim away problem branches.
Branches at an Acute Angle
If branches grow almost straight up, they are susceptible to breaking off under the weight of snow later in life. Thus, you need to cut them before they have a chance to grow too big.
Branches That Grow Too Close Together along the Trunk
If branches start growing close together along the trunk, they can create so much weight on the trunk that they can cause the tree to lean. Snow can also load down the tree and cause it to break under the weight of snow. Cut these branches off at the trunk.
Branches That Interfere with One Another
If branches rub against each other, they can rub away the bark and create openings for beetles and disease organisms to get into the tree. You may not need to cut such branches off at the trunk, but you will want to cut away any secondary branches that look like they will interfere with other branches.
If you take care to start your fruit trees off right, you won't have to worry about devastating problems later on. When you cut your branches, you don't need to worry about treating them with anything because whatever substance you put on your tree can actually help to trap disease organisms right against your tree. If you take care of your trees early in life, they will have a better chance of producing fruit later on. For assistance, talk to a professional like Treetime Inc.