One of the most important things to do to improve the health of an old apple tree is to prune it correctly. Never prune more than 20% of an older apple tree annually. Prune too many branches off a fruit tree and you can kill the tree. Even overly pruned, an apple will produce water sprouts which are branches that run straight up and down but do not produce fruit.

Experts like Donovan Arborists recommend removing dead, damaged and diseased branches first, starting at the top of the tree. Remove air circulations by removing scaffold branches followed by sail branches. Snip the water sprouts and shorten scaffold branches. Older trees that have not been cared for might take five years to fully and properly trim the tree given the 20% pruning limitation each year.

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