Question: How much do I prune my new fruit trees back after they have been planted?

Answer: The general rule of thumb is to cut bare-rooted plants back by 50 percent and container-grown plants as needed to shape. That means you’ll be paying for a 5-foot apple tree, but you’ll be cutting it back to 30 inches. Part of the reason for that is to compensate for roots lost in the digging, but you also need to establish that new tree’s branch structure early. As it grew in the nursery, it was probably crowded against other trees. As a result, it grew tall and slender. Pruning at planting lets you develop the scaffold branches the tree will need to hold its full load of fruit.

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