Some gardeners swear by summer top fruit pruning, others believe you should only prune in winter. As with nearly everything, both sides have a point.
I’m only talking about apples and pears here, not members of the prunus genus: plums, cherries, apricots and peaches.

They must only be pruned between late spring and early autumn when the sap is rising and never during dormancy. The fungal disorder, silver leaf can enter a prunus tree though damaged bark or stem, possibly caused by pruning. The disease weakens and finally kills a tree.
Some good, experienced gardeners think summer pruning is a needless waste of time and rightly point out that, if done too early, it can encourage numerous new shoots to arise from the cuts. And that you can’t avoid dislodging ripening fruit while pruning. 
This is less valid if you’ve a poor fruit set, probably because of frost at blossom time or dropping fruit during a drought.

I need to summer prune my greengage anyway just now, but the crop is so poor, I’d be hard-pressed to find fruit to knock off. This can certainly happen with apples and pears as well.
If you can live with dislodging the odd apple or pear, prune pears over the next two or three weeks, and start on apples from the middle of next month. It’s worth emphasising that this pruning is very important for both young and trained fruit trees. It encourages the stems you want to grow more vigorously thereby making it easier to train to the desired shape.
Summer pruning benefits mature trees in three ways. It lets more light in to the ripening fruits, allowing them to become tastier and colour nicely. Trees put their energies into forming fruit buds rather than further stem and leaf growth. And additional tiny fruit buds form, ripen and mature more readily in the light.
When the lower part of new growth starts hardening is the stage to start pruning new stems longer than 20cm, cutting back by at least half to just above a pair of leaves. Leave shorter ones as they may form fruit buds at the tip of shoots. Completely remove all vertical shoots. Check round every few weeks till autumn, removing new growth emerging from pruned stems.

Plant of the week

Sweet Pea ‘Solway Serenade’ has bi-coloured red/pink flowers that add depth and vibrancy to the effect.  The plants are short, only growing to about 1 metre so are more suitable for growing in pots than tall sweet peas. Like all sweet peas, they should be kept well watered and fed if they are to bloom over a long period.
The flowers are strongly scented which I reckon is essential in a sweet pea and makes the vital task of deadheading a pleasure.

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