Cortland Apple tree


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Looks like a leaning tower. I planted last spring and it’s grown but mostly just taller, now it’s leaning especially when wind blows. I didn’t prune because there was nothing dead. Do I need to prune it, I’m thinking I do but don’t know where to start. Still very much learning. It only has 4 apples on it growing, I picked them off last year. Ty
 

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Babies are usually ugly. As they grow, they get better looking. If you want to pick apples then don't let the tree get taller than your reach. You want to keep horizontal branches in ranks only as high as you can reach. New growth will grow straight up from these horizontals. Every early winter, prune hard back to reduce wood by ~20 to 25% to develop a few radial branches that all get good light, not shaded by the branches above. Ideally, three branches per rank, each branch rotated 130°, and each rank having branches spaced in-between the branches in the next rank above and below. You can probably reach about 7 feet high, so if you have the first rank of branches at 3 feet from the ground, and 18" between all ranks, they will be at 3 ft, 4 1/2 ft, 6 ft, 7 1/2 ft. It will grow more apples than you want. They will be smaller and less appealing than if you sit down and ask yourself just exactly how many nice apples you want. If you want a billion crappy apples, do nothing. If you want 50 great fruit, reduce all clusters to one fruit ASAP and reduce the number of clusters per branch to some number that achieves your goal. Then there's spraying for bugs and diseases.
 
Joined
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Babies are usually ugly. As they grow, they get better looking. If you want to pick apples then don't let the tree get taller than your reach. You want to keep horizontal branches in ranks only as high as you can reach. New growth will grow straight up from these horizontals. Every early winter, prune hard back to reduce wood by ~20 to 25% to develop a few radial branches that all get good light, not shaded by the branches above. Ideally, three branches per rank, each branch rotated 130°, and each rank having branches spaced in-between the branches in the next rank above and below. You can probably reach about 7 feet high, so if you have the first rank of branches at 3 feet from the ground, and 18" between all ranks, they will be at 3 ft, 4 1/2 ft, 6 ft, 7 1/2 ft. It will grow more apples than you want. They will be smaller and less appealing than if you sit down and ask yourself just exactly how many nice apples you want. If you want a billion crappy apples, do nothing. If you want 50 great fruit, reduce all clusters to one fruit ASAP and reduce the number of clusters per branch to some number that achieves your goal. Then there's spraying for bugs and diseases.


Should I prune top now or wait till early winter? I only have 4 apples growing on this tree. Ty for detailed response.
 
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Do it now, start the new design. Also, you will see new twigs/clusters of foliage on the trunk. Choose to keep those that are in the right location for the 9 to 12 major branches, as above. (Of course, you will already have some larger branches that are in good positions, keep them. I didn't describe the positions of the branches very well, above. They should radiate out horizontally, each rotated ~130° and slightly higher on the trunk, like a spiral staircase up to the top. That arrangement allows for the most light penetration.
 

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