Fruit trees flower and fruit each year, but some of them do so only on new branches, or specific parts of older branches.
Why does this matter? If we prune off the wrong branches, we might lose our whole fruit crop for a year!
By knowing what age of wood fruit trees producing their fruit on, we can achieve our intended pruning goals of reducing tree size and renewing fruiting wood without accidentally sacrificing the years harvest.
Knowing which branches can be cut allows us to prune fruiting branches shorter as a way of thinning the fruit, to avoid biennial cropping – where a large crop of tiny fruit is produced one year, and very little to no fruit the next. Through yearly pruning, the tree will instead produce a moderate sized crop of large, high quality fruit, each and every year.
Some fruit trees fruit near their tips of their branches, so it’s important to know which ones do this, because pruning their branches will prevent fruiting. For more information on these types of trees, please see the article – Fruit Trees with Special Pruning Requirements – Figs, Persimmons and Pomegranates
Fruit Tree Fruiting Wood Age and Pollination Requirements
The alphabetical list below details:
- The age of wood that trees fruit on.
- Any considerations need to be taken into account when pruning.
- Whether the trees are self-fertile, and can produce fruit on its own, or if they need a different variety of the same type of tree as a pollinator to bear fruit.
In the descriptions, there are references to fruiting spurs, these are short shoots which produce the majority of flowers and fruit in many fruit trees. Also, some fruit trees are described as being partially self-fertile, these are trees that will produce a crop on their own without a compatible pollinator, but will produce a larger crop when pollinators are present.
Deciduous Fruit Tree Fruiting Wood Age
Almonds (Prunus dulcis) – fruit on 1-year old wood and from spurs on 2-3-year old wood. Some varieties are self-fertile, while others require a pollinator. Almond trees are not true nut trees but are in fact fleshless peaches, which is why they’re in this list.
Apples (Malus spp.) – most apples fruit on spurs on 2-4-year-old wood, some fruit on tips of short side branches. Most varieties require a suitable pollinator, but some varieties, such as Golden Delicious, Red Fuji, and Red Jonathon are all partially self-fertile. Apples are wind pollinated.
Apricots (Prunus armenica) – fruit on 1-3-year old wood. Don’t prune in winter as apricots as they are susceptible to gummosis, prune on a dry, preferably windy day anytime from after harvest to the start of leaf fall. Self-fertile.
Cherries, Sweet (Prunus avium) – fruit on 1-year old wood and older on branches and on long-lived spurs. Some varieties are self-fertile, while others require a pollinator. Popular red cherry is the Stella variety, and dark cherry is the Lapin variety, both are self-fertile.
Cherries, Sour (Prunus cerasum) – fruit on 2-year old wood. Self-fertile. The popular dark-red sour cherry is the Morello variety.
Figs (Ficus carica) – fruit at the base of current season’s new growth, but some varieties crop twice a year and also produce an early breba crop on the tips of 1-year old wood. Self-fertile.
Jujubes (Ziziphus jujuba) – fruit on current season’s new growth. Self-fertile.
Medlars (Mespilus germanica) – fruit on the tips of 1-year old wood, and from spurs on 2-year-old wood and older. Self-fertile.
Mulberries (Morus spp.) – fruit on current season’s new growth and from spurs on older wood. Prune after harvest in summer, the regrowth will produce a second crop. All varieties are self-fertile.
Nectarines (Prunus persica nectarina) – fruit mainly on 1-year old wood. Self-fertile, only varieties with ‘Hale’ in their parentage will require another variety for pollination. Nectarines are really just smooth peaches without the ‘peach fuzz’.
Peaches (Prunus persica) – fruit mainly on 1-year old wood. Self-fertile, only varieties with ‘Hale’ in their parentage will require another variety for pollination.
Pears (Pyrus spp.) – fruit on long-lived spurs on 2-year old wood and older. Most varieties require a suitable pollinator, but some varieties, such as Williams (Bartlett) are partially self-fertile.
Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) – fruit on current season’s new growth emerging from the last few buds of one-year-old wood. Self-fertile.
Plums, European (Prunus domestica) – fruit on long-lived spurs on 2-year old wood and older. Most varieties require a suitable pollinator, but some varieties, such as Green Gage, and Damsons are self-fertile.
Plums, Japanese (Prunus salicina) – fruit on 1-year old wood, and on short-lived spurs on older wood. Most varieties require a suitable pollinator, but some varieties, such as Santa Rosa are self-fertile, while varieties such as Mariposa are partially self-fertile..
Pomegranates (Punica granatum) – fruit from spurs growing mainly on the ends of the branches, which can be produced on current season’s new growth, but mainly on 2-3-year old wood. Can be hedged. Self-fertile, but productivity is increased when other pomegranate varieties are grown nearby.
Quinces (Cydonia oblonga) – fruit on current season’s new growth. Self-fertile.
Evergreen Fruit Tree Fruiting Wood Age
Avocados (Persea americana) – fruit on the ends of current season’s new growth. Partially self-fertile in cooler temperate climates, In warmer subtropical and tropical climates, both a type A and type B variety are required for pollination.
Citrus (Citrus spp.) – fruit on current season’s new growth. Self-fertile.
Cherry Guava (Psidium littorale) – fruit on current season’s new growth. Can be hedged. Self-fertile.
Feijoa (Acca sellowiana) – fruit only on 1-year old wood. Can be hedged. Self-fertile, but more productive when other feijoa varieties are grown nearby.
Loquats (Eriobotrya japonica) – fruit mainly on the ends of current season’s new growth. Self-fertile.
Olives (Olea europa) – fruit only on 1-year old wood. Can be hedged. Most varieties are self-fertile, but some varieties require a pollinator. Wind pollinated.
Sapote, White (Casimiroa edulis) – fruit on the ends of current season’s new growth emerging from one-year-old wood. Some varieties are self-fertile, such as the Kampong variety, some are partially self-fertile, while others require a pollinator.
When I first started pruning apple trees I inherited–all spur-bearing, I pruned off all the spurs, thinking they were similar to watersprouts :/ No crop that year.
We do learn a lot from our mistakes, speaking from experience! 🙂
You’re welcome! 🙂
Nice. Do you know if the mulberries will produce a second crop even in northern hemisphere like Midwest, USA latitudes?
Mulberries produce a second crop when they put on new growth after pruning, and I’m assuming that late summer would still be warm enough in the USA Midwest to produce more growth after pruning. If you give it a go, please let me know if you get a seconds crop that ripens in time, thanks!
Very informative! Thank you!!