We have two apple trees in our garden, a Discovery eater and an unknown cooker.
In January this year we significantly pruned the Discovery, cutting out large amounts of crossing wood and opening up the tree. I was nervous that this would damage the tree or shock it into sulking. The opposite appears to be the case with the tree heavy with blossom.
Looking back through my photographs, its interesting how the blossom dates of the trees vary. Sometimes there is absolutely no blossom on the trees at this time and others, they are heavy. I don’t know whether that’s a symptom of Global Warming, just a variation in the weather or what. I’m also not sure whether the trees fruit better with early blossom or late blossom and I don’t think its something I can start to monitor now.
The reason that I’ve had difficulty pruning the Discovery is because its a “tip bearer”. This means that the blossom (and hence the fruit) is on the end of the growth. So, trimming back the growth in winter stands a chance of cutting off all the fruiting buds and summer pruning removes all the fruit. The tree therefore gets into a tangle and the old saying “let a pigeon fly through” is virtually impossible to apply. Over the years (and the tree is over 20 years old) its got very tangled so this year we bit the bullet and gave it a hard thinning out. We did get nervous and stopped after a while but having seen how well its doing this year, the chances are we’ll give it another go next.
The eater (which is behind the Discovery) is just beginning to blossom. It is a spur bearer and therefore easier to prune but will have a severe summer haircut as its got lots of “watershoots” which take the energy from the tree but don’t produce fruit. I understand they have to be summer pruned so that the tree doesn’t just replace them. It looks like it will have a lot of blossom as well.