Winter pruning requires a clear objective for what is to be achieved.
Clean cuts made with sharp tools repair quicker and reduce the risk of infection, which can be problematic if stems are torn or split from blunt tools.
A pair of secateurs and a pruning saw are mandatory for most pruning tasks.
It is best to undertake any structural pruning of deciduous fruit trees such as peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, apples, and pears immediately after they have finished fruiting in summer.
This is particularly important for stone fruits, which can suffer from a fungal disease called cytospora canker, commonly known as gummosis.
Heavy winter pruning can render stone fruit trees more susceptible to gummosis as exposed cuts are slower to heal in cold weather.
This results in infection causing the presence of an amber-coloured resin or gum covering the bark at the point of infection.
Symptoms will not usually appear until the trees are in active growth during spring and summer.
Cankers will develop at the infection site and lead to weakening of branches above this point, which can result in dieback after one to two seasons.
The presence of a clear-coloured resin on stems and branches is the result of a tree's natural defence against some form of physical damage, such as hail damage or even pruning cuts.
A healthy tree will produce these clear resins to prevent infection at the wound site.
The important point to remember is the difference in colour between the gums that may appear on stone fruit trees. Clear gums require no action, but amber-reddish gums indicate gummosis.
The best line of defence is to ensure good cultural practices.
Prune at the right time of year cutting out any weak or diseased branches and keep trees healthy with adequate nutrition and moisture in the growing season to improve vigour and yields.
Roses can be pruned safely now except in cold areas that experience frost where pruning should occur in August. Aim to open the centre of the bush to allow good air flow and encourage growth to the outside of the bush.
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To begin, simply remove 75 per cent of the growth from the top of the rose. Remove any dead, weak or small soft stems.
Cut approximately six millimetres above an outward-facing bud with a slightly sloping cut away from the bud.
- John Gabriele is a horticulture teacher with a love for green spaces.