Pruning is usually necessary only in the first several years to shape the tree to its appropriate form – central leader, modified leader or open-vase (see pictures). Most nut trees grow naturally with a straight trunk (central leader) with only a little pruning required.
Occasional pruning is necessary to open the center of the tree for greater light and air penetration. Light annual pruning of dead wood or an out-of-place branch helps older trees by rejuvenating growth and promoting better fruit production.
Some trees may require annual pruning to produce the best fruit. With peaches, the top is cut at planting to open up the center of the tree for light to get in for fruit ripening. The branches grow out in a vase shape. New growth is cut back each winter, to create a better crop with larger sized fruit. Fruit-thinning may be necessary if the crop load is too high.
Blueberries and blackberries are pruned back after fruit harvest to grow vegetative shoots over the summer that will bear next year’s fruit. Grapevines are pruned back to main fruiting limbs during the winter to promote optimum production the next year.
Many gardeners are afraid to prune, but you should not be. Learning to do a little pruning will greatly benefit your trees and increase their productivity.