Plant fruit trees as advised in Easy Steps to Planting Nursery Stock, following the spacing recommendations below. This spacing, less than 50 feet apart, ensures good pollination. Even trees that are self fruitful bear heavier crops with a second variety planted nearby. At planting time, properly pruned fruit trees should have only 3-4 branches. As your trees grow, prune in early spring, removing crossed or injured limbs and any branches which rub against each other. This allows light into the center of the tree. Don’t cut short spurs from the main stem since these bear first fruit.
At maturity, your trees should have been pruned to one of two different methods. The central leader system consists of a main stem pruned to 3-4 layers of scaffold branches. The vase, or bowl, method opens up the center of the tree by pruning out the central leader. Four or five main scaffold branches are left to grow in all directions, forming a bowl-like shape.
Always prune fruit trees just above a plump bud, sloping the cut at a 45-degree angle. A too-long stub invites disease, while a cut that’s too close will probably kill the bud. A cut angled toward the bud causes water to collect and encourages disease.
Regular spraying stops insects before they can damage your crop. Apply dormant oil before buds begin to swell. Spray trees with liquid fruit tree spray when flower petals fall. Make follow-up applications every 10 days or so until the harvest nears.
If cared for properly, most trees bear heavy crops–sometimes too heavy. This exhausts the trees, causing them to bear a full crop only every other year. To prevent this, it may be necessary to thin the fruit out evenly on the branches.