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Pruning in the cold

Posted by Karen Brindle 
Pruning in the cold
February 15, 2019 02:34PM
This may be a dumb question. We are in the midst of an unusual blast of below freezing temps for the entire month of February. I did not get finished with pruning in the balmy months of Dec and Jan. Can I still prune in this cold, (if I can get into the orchard, still waiting for the snow to melt more) Is there potential harm, especially if I need to take larger branches out? I'm a slow, methodical, thoughtful novice, getting concerned I might not finish before green tip, over 50 trees yet to be done.

VistaRidge orchard, Quilcene, WA zone 8a est. 2012
235 Cider and heritage apple trees, 72 varieties,
Re: Pruning in the cold
February 15, 2019 03:18PM
I think its OK to prune as long as the tree's are dormant?

Brampton Lake Orchards

Zone 4a Upper Michigan
Re: Pruning in the cold
February 15, 2019 03:18PM
I just looked at the forecast for Quilcene, WA and at least by northeast standards, your area won't be cold enough to do any damage at all. I would feel comfortable just pruning normally [however, you define that]; or just proceeding how you want. Typically, I would not want to prune below 10F because of potential damage to cambial wood, leading to cracking and infections of various sorts. So unless wiser minds intervene, I wouldn't hesitate to prune.

Mike Biltonen, Know Your Roots
Zone 5b in New York
Re: Pruning in the cold
February 15, 2019 03:20PM
Of course, the more dormant the better - however, trees can be pruned up to tight cluster without (m)any negative repercussions.

Mike Biltonen, Know Your Roots
Zone 5b in New York
Re: Pruning in the cold
February 15, 2019 07:40PM
I guess everything is relative...
Here in Quebec we are used to much colder temperatures - maybe also the apple trees get used to it?
In any case, just below freezing is in no case a problem for me. I do wait until the big colds have passed before starting (and those big colds are more like -20 to -25C). I usually start beginning of March.
Mike mentions 10F which would be -12C. I guess yes this is pretty much the coldest where I would be out pruning. However it could get colder than that during the night.
Claude
Where there are about 6 feet of snow on the ground - will make it easier to prune without a ladder... Snowshoes required!

Jolicoeur Orchard
Zone 4 in Quebec
Re: Pruning in the cold
February 16, 2019 12:55PM
Awesome, thank you all for your responses! Claude, I like the idea of snowshoe pruning, but we only got about 12", not enough to make a difference. Because of Anthracnose I haul out all the cuttings and can't get my RTV onto the slope yet. Lowest temps have been around 16F so I'm relieved I won't do damage.

VistaRidge orchard, Quilcene, WA zone 8a est. 2012
235 Cider and heritage apple trees, 72 varieties,
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