Too often backyard growers plant apple trees and leave them untended for several years.
The central leader/main leader structure is based on a fruit tree's natural upright growth form. Central leader pruning benefits apples, pears, and more. There are different pruning and training structures for different types of fruit trees. The central leader, or main leader, structure is recommended for fruit trees whose branches naturally have more of an upright growth habit, rather than a spreading nature.
Pruning Apple Trees 2 Scaffold branches near your cut develop sharp narrow-angled crotches. Limbs several inches lower, however, develop strong wide-angled crotches. After a month or two when the top shoots are 4- to 6-inches long, trim back the central leader to.
May 30, John Strong demonstrates how to prune apple trees at planting, and after the first and second growing seasons. It also covers pruning a young tree into beari. Prune apple trees to a “Central Leader” shape. Apple trees are productive and strong when pruned and trained to a central leader (or main leader) structure. This type of structure has a pyramidal shape with a single upright leader limb as its highest point. This central leader is the newest extension of a long, upright growing trunk from which all lateral branches arise.
Apple trees are trained to a modified leader system. The tree should be trained with one central leader or main trunk in the center, with several wide-angled limbs spaced around the leader.
The tree should mature to a pyramidal shape. The picture below shows correct and incorrect pruning of an apple tree. Use “spur-type” strains or grow apples on dwarfing rootstock to make training and pruning easier.