After Pruning, What?

What do orchard people do all winter? PRUNE. But when the snow
goes and it’s time to move tractors through the aisles, our next
problem is obvious.

Pruning Wood Before Chopper
Solution?  A violent device called a flail chopper, mounted in front
of an orchard tractor.  Start it up, drive slowly over the cuttings
neatly laid in its path, and end up with mulch!

Pruning wood after
Now, the heavy prunings just won’t chop. So we separate them in
their own heaps. Fortunately, we heat partly with wood, so dozens
of heaps like this will come together in the furnace next winter:

Heavy pruning cuttings
Why take all this trouble? Because apple trees left unpruned
swiftly become dense thickets of vertical branches. Every year,
every tree grows new wood; every year the pruners decide which
parts of each tree to keep, and which to cut.

Apple growers train and prune their trees for strong, outward-
angled branches. That way, heavy crops won’t break branches.
Sunlight will reach as many apples as possible. Sunlight makes   
apples sweeten up and color up. Bugs, birds and beasts enjoy the
sour little green apples that grow on unpruned trees. Wild creatures
will take the fruit and drop the seeds, which is why trees bother to
produce fruit at all. But humans are picky, so fruit growers prune.

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