Home' Grower : February 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower -- February 2012
Invest wisely for a
better pruning cut
FOR the best possible pruning
results, top-quality tools are a
Properly cared for, they will last for
many years and do a far better job than
The first rule of pruning with a hand
tool is never tackle a branch that is too
big because it will damage the tool and
If the job is too big for a hand tool
and a power tool is required, it's
probably not a pruning job, but rather
solved by retraining or reshaping.
Hand shears or secateurs are generally
suited for most pruning jobs and they
should be carefully chosen: do not
skimp on price.
Broadly speaking, there are two styles
of hand shears -- the scissor and hook
and blade (anvil) types with scissor
shears considered by most professionals
as the best.
They make the cleanest and closest
Anvil shears have a straight-edged
blade that cuts against a soft metal anvil.
While in some cases lighter to hold,
they cannot cut as close or clean.
They can also cr ush and bruise the
branches or stems.
Anvil shears are really not suited to
cutting stems more than 18 millimetres
in diameter or about pencil thickness.
Depending on the amount of pruning
to be carried out, pneumatic and
battery-powered are another option.
These units are generally of the scissor
and hook design and, of course, more
Rewards of a summer clip
FOREST Range apple grower Craig Harris
(pictured) says there are several advantages to
summer pruning trellised trees, including
allowing in more sunlight for better fruit
maturation and colouring. It also helps with
maintaining a shape, making for easier picking.
Trading under the name of Harrisville
Orchards, established 110 years ago by his
great grandfather, Craig and his father Brian
operate two orchard blocks, 6 kilometres apart,
with 28 hectares of apples and 2ha of cherries.
Such is the quality of the fruit produced,
Harrisville apples have won the Blue Ribbon
Championship at the Royal Adelaide Show
every year since 1997 and topped it off in 2009
by winning the prestigious horticultural
Banksia Best Exhibit Award -- the first time it
had been won by a fruit grower.
Never tackle a branch that is too
Maintain tools in top working con-
Quality range best option
AT A GLANCE
FRUIT trees are traditionally pruned in the winter
months when they are dormant, but research has
shown some trees can also benefit from a second
light clip early in summer just as the fruit is
Certain trees put on a lot of new shoots in the spring
and summer months, causing management problems
at harvest and affecting yields with important
nutrients taken away from the developing fruit.
Summer pruning is relatively simple.
Cut the shoots off at the base where they emerge
from the older, established branches.
These shoots are easy to spot, more flexible and
lighter in colour than the older branches and,
importantly, do not have any fruit buds on them.
The warmer and drier summer weather also helps to
promote faster healing of the pruning cuts and
reduces the chances of fungal or bacterial infections
entering the tree via cuts.
The pruning of fruit trees influences the growth and
shape of the tree and the quantity of fruit it produces.
If left unpruned, the trees will become too big and
tangled to comfortably and safely harvest the fruit
with too much unproductive growth around it.
The overall objectives of pruning a fruit tree in
summer include --
• Maintaining the tree in healthy condition and a
manageable shape and size.
• Promoting heavy and regular bearing.
• Improving the size, colour and quality of the fruit.
• Removing any diseased or dead material from the
• Enabling operations, such as harvesting, spraying
and pruning, to be carried out.
Summer pruning also increases the airflow around
the fruit and allows more direct sunlight to reach the
centre of the tree. Lack of airflow and sunlight slows
the fruit ripening process and can increase the risk of
It can also encourage trees to set more flower and
fruit buds and fewer leaf and branch buds, allow fruit
to be picked more easily, reduce the amount of winter
pruning that may be required and make it easier to
put netting over the trees to protect the ripening fruit
from bird attacks.
- DAVID EAST
benefits of program
Lopper long-handled pruning shears
require two hands to bring additional
leverage to bear for cutting branches up
to 75mm in diameter.
Loppers also come in hook and blade
and anvil styles and are useful for
pruning hard-to-reach or unwanted
Pole pr uners are handy for high work,
especially in places where using a ladder
could be considered dangerous.
They are generally recommended for
cutting dead wood of more than 25mm.
For branches greater than 25mm in
diameter, a pruning saw (not a
carpenter's saw) is recommended.
Pruning saws have cur ved blades
designed to cut on the pull strokes and
can also be purchased with 'raker' teeth.
Just as important as buying the best
pruning equipment available, it is
equally important to maintain it in top
working condition by regularly
sharpening the blades, taking care to
maintain the original angle of bevel on
After each use, pruning tools should
be cleaned and wiped over with an oily
Kerosene or some other solvent will
quickly remove unwanted sticky residue
saps from the cutting blades.
The most important features of a
good cutting tool are -
• Cutting performance: ability to keep
its edges and cut cleanly with minimal
• Ergonomics: lightweight and well
balanced to minimise stain on the
users hand, wrist, muscles and tendons
• Durability and maintainability: best
quality tools last longer and are
generally backed up by a full range of
replacement parts such as cutting
Other points to watch out for --
• Forged handles offer better strength
and durability than non-forged
handles which are cheaper to buy, but
their weaker molecular bonds make
them more prone to breakage.
• Plastic handles on secateurs generally
indicate the quality of the tool itself
and these grips are less durable in the
long term and will weaken from ultra-
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