Spur Bearing Apple Info: Pruning Spur Bearing Apple Trees In The Landscape

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

With so many varieties available, shopping for apple trees can be confusing. Add terms like spur bearing, tip bearing and partial tip bearing and it can be even more confusing. These three terms simply describe where the fruit grows on the tree’s branches. Most commonly sold apple trees are spur bearing. So what is a spur bearing apple tree? Continue reading to learn more.

Spur Bearing Apple Info

On spur bearing apple trees, fruit grows on small thorn-like shoots (called spurs), which grow evenly along the main branches. Most spur bearing apples bear fruit the second or third year. The buds develop in mid-summer to late fall, then the next year it flowers and bears fruit.

Most spur bearing apple trees are dense and compact. They are easy to grow as espaliers because of their compact habit and abundance of fruit throughout the plant.

Some common spur bearing apple tree varieties are:

  • Candy Crisp
  • Red Delicious
  • Golden Delicious
  • Winesap
  • Macintosh
  • Baldwin
  • Chieftain
  • Fuji
  • Jonathan
  • Honeycrisp
  • Jonagold
  • Zestar

Pruning Spur Bearing Apple Trees

So you may be thinking what does it matter where the fruit grows on the tree as long as you get fruit. Pruning spur bearing apples is different than pruning tip or partial tip bearing varieties, though.

Spur bearing apple trees can be pruned harder and more often because they bear more fruit throughout the plant. Spur bearing apple trees should be pruned in winter. Remove dead, diseased and damaged branches. You can also prune branches to shape. Do not prune off all the fruit buds, which will be easy to identify.

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