Posted by Brent Wilson on 8/30/2016 to Fruit Gardening
Below are some helpful tips for pruning young or established Japanese persimmon trees.
Note: During the first three years of a persimmon tree's life, pinch all fruit off of the tree as it forms in the summer. Do not allow persimmon trees to grow fruit until they are at least 4 years old.
When to Prune
The best time to prune a Japanese persimmon tree is in late winter, while the tree is dormant and without leaves.
At Planting Time
Most container-grown Japanese persimmon grown by reputable nurseries have been properly pruned and will not require pruning at planting time. If planting a bare root tree during the winter or early spring, when the tree is dormant, use a sharp pair of hand pruners to cut the branches back to about half their length. This will help the tree to establish a root system and more branches in the canopy.
Young Persimmon Tree (1 to 5 Years Old)
To encourage a strong main branch structure, thin new shoots/branches each year until the tree is roughly 5 years old. Prune in a way so that the main branches spread out evenly from the main trunk and do not cross one another. You want to achieve a roughly round internal branch architecture where the main branches face away from the trunk. Leave branches with about one foot of space between them to increase the amount of sunlight that reaches the fruit.
Older Persimmon Tree (over 5 years old)
Prune the tree lightly each year or so removing dead wood, weak branching, sucker growth from the base of the trunk, horizontal shoots growing from the main trunk, and any crowding, crossing branches. When removing a damaged or dead branch, cut back to a point of healthy wood, down to the parent branch, or down to the main trunk as needed or desired.
TIP: Smaller branches and stems can be cut with hand pruners or lopper prunes however, when cutting back larger branches over 1-inch in diameter, you'll need to use a sharp pruning saw to ensure clean cuts without tearing the bark.
Older persimmon trees that are not performing well can be pruned more severely to rejuvenate the tree and stimulate new fruiting branch growth. When rejuvenation pruning, you'll be removing about 1/3 of the oldest branches in the canopy of the tree. Spread the cuts evenly through the canopy so that the new growth will be well distributed for a balanced branch system.
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