When and how to cut sweet cherries in spring?

Sweet cherry yield is directly related to the quality of tree crown formation. When carrying out trimming work, the age of the tree, the season should be taken into account and the technology must be observed. The article describes the main features of spring pruning, its types and tips for beginners.

Do you need pruning a tree in spring

Knowing the features of the development and growth of cherries, you can clearly determine the timing when to cut the tree and how to do it correctly.

The growth and development of cherries differ from other fruit crops and have their own characteristics, such as:

  • 75% of the crop is formed on annual horizontal shoots and bouquet branches;
  • profuse awakening of sleeping kidneys takes place in early spring;
  • the tree weakly branches, but gives a strong growth of shoots up to 1 m per season and young shoots at the trunk and roots;
  • fruit buds are located on two-year-old wood, less often on an annual shoot;
  • buds on top of a one-year-old growth - growth;
  • the crown is difficult to form, since new ones grow on cut shoots, as a rule, even longer.

Without pruning, the cherry trees will grow very tall, the crown will be very thickened inside, and the fruiting will become low and go to the periphery. That is why spring pruning is so necessary.

Events should be held regularly from the first year of planting a seedling in the garden and take into account the varietal characteristics, age of the tree and growing conditions. After the procedure, the cherry tree sends a substantial part of its strength to the formation of fruiting branches with a high-quality and stable crop.

Advantages and disadvantages of such trimming

  • Pros of spring pruning:
  • rational formation of the crown and strong frame;
  • easier care and harvesting;
  • extension of the life of the tree and fruiting;
  • improvement of tree nutrition, illumination and air exchange among the branches;
  • reduced risk of malware damage;
  • aesthetic appearance of plantings;
  • the crown of a tree without foliage is clearly visible.

  • Minuses:
  • the tree tolerates stress and is forced to spend energy on repairing damage, so growth and fruiting can be delayed;
  • measures should be carried out in a short time - the sap flow in the cherry occurs earlier than other fruit crops, so the procedure should be carried out as quickly as possible, but, on the other hand, the start of sap flow promotes the rapid healing of wounds from wood damage.

Did you know? Among stone fruit crops, cherries take the first place by honey bearing. Bees can collect up to 35 kg of pollen from 1 ha of cherry orchard.

When to prune in spring

Novice gardeners often ask themselves: when is the best time to start the pruning process.

To determine the timing, remember the basic rules:

  • the beginning of the conduct - before the active sap flow and swelling of the kidneys;
  • events are held annually at the end of February in the southern regions, in March-April - in the north;
  • according to weather forecasts, there should be no threat of return frosts, since the thinned crown of heat-loving cherries is sensitive to freezing temperatures.

Cherry Cutting Tools

Trimming should begin with the preparation of the necessary tool, which must be sanitized and sharpened.

Important! Sweet cherry does not tolerate mechanical influences and damage, so it is advisable to form a crown in the first 4 years and not severely injure the tree in the future.

For garden improvement work, the following tools and materials will be needed:

  • saw, hacksaw or delimbers for work with thick branches;
  • garden knife for thin branches and stripping of cuts;
  • secateurs for branches up to 2.5 cm thick;
  • garden shears to remove non-woody shoots;
  • height cutter or retractable bar pruner for work on the top of the crown;
  • tool sharpening;
  • wood products for putty (garden var, mastic, paint);
  • stepladder, mittens, goggles;
  • disinfectants for processing tools when working with problematic branches.

Types of sweet cherry pruning

Without timely and regular pruning, it is impossible to form a compact, easy-to-care and abundantly fruiting tree.


This type of pruning is aimed at creating the future crown of the tree and is carried out annually during the first 4 years of cherry development. Damage to cherries will be minimal if pruning is carried out before the sap flow and swelling of the kidneys, when there is no threat of frost, and night temperatures are positive. In the first year, during spring pruning, the foundation for the development and stability of the crown is laid.

Important! Pruning of annual shoots must be performed on the kidney, the branching of which will grow outward, and not inside the crown. This creates a symmetrical crown, and the branches do not intersect and do not hang over each other.

The procedure scheme is as follows:

  1. A seedling of less than 1 m is not cut.
  2. The seedling without lateral shoots is subjected to the classic pruning technology, which leaves 70 cm on the stem and 20 cm on the crown.
  3. If the seedling has several developed (4–5) lateral shoots, then they are shortened to 50 cm, and the top is cut at a height of 60 cm from the upper lateral branch. A section is made over the kidney, from which branching will begin the next year and a new crown level will be formed.
  4. In the presence of a small number of shoots (1-3), they are pruned for annual growth.
  5. The main trunk should be 10-15 cm above the level of cuts of the lateral branches.
  6. Branches at the top of the main trunk are cut, leaving one central and shortening the rest to 20-30 cm.
  7. Branches growing vertically at an acute angle to the trunk are removed completely.
  8. Some branches growing inside the crown can be pinched in summer over 4 leaves - of which fruit shoots will form next year.

Such pruning gives the cherry a sparse-tiered or cupped shape, limits the growth of the tree and forms many fruitful branches. During this period, there is an active buildup of the root system for proper nutrition of the aerial parts in the future. In the second year, 1 tier is created by trimming on a two-year-old seedling, choosing 4 developed shoots and cutting them to half an annual growth of up to 50 cm.

The main trunk is shortened, leaving 4 kidneys on it. In the third spring, 2 tiers are formed by trimming, shortening the shoots of the frame branches at the level of the shortest branch. All the shoots inside the crown are cut out. The crown is formed correctly if, after trimming, the skeletal branches are directed upwards and form an angle of less than 45 ° with the trunk. When the cherry is 4 years old, a 3 tier is formed 20 cm lower from the top of the conductor and with a shoot length of not more than 60 cm.

The second tier is leveled by trimming, adjusting to the same length of 60–70 cm. If the shoots are shorter, then trimming is not carried out. On the 1st tier 2–3 frame branches of the second order are laid at a distance of 60–80 cm from each other with a length of 20–30 cm. It is necessary to lay the branch asymmetrically on both sides of the conductor branch.

Important! If you overestimate the pruning of a young seedling (above 1.2 m), then the fruiting level will subsequently be at a height of 2 m, which is inconvenient when picking berries and caring for a tree.

Parameters of a correctly formed longline crown:

  • the length of the trunk to the first main branches (shtamb) is 50–70 cm;
  • the base of the skeleton is formed by 6–8 branches of the first order in three tiers: on the first —4–5 branches, on the second — 3-4, on the third — 2-3;
  • distance between tiers - 70–80 cm;
  • crown width - 2–2.5 m;
  • branches are placed symmetrically relative to the main trunk and asymmetrically relative to each other in tiers and wire branches.

If we imagine the top view of the cherry tree, it will look like a watch dial with a central conductor at a central point and skeletal branches of tiers diverging from it, like clock hands that do not intersect and do not overlap.


If the tree ceases to bear fruit or the berries begin to grow smaller, and the fruit bearing moves to the outer part of the crown, then a rejuvenating pruning is carried out, which combines formative and sanitary. Rejuvenate the tree usually every 5-6 years in the spring. If spring is cold and rainy, it is better to transfer the rejuvenation to the beginning of summer, when the weather is warm. After rejuvenating pruning, the old sweet cherry takes the form of a two-year-old tree and restores varietal qualities.

Learn how to plant sweet cherry seedlings in the fall.

In the process of anti-aging pruning, all growths appearing on the tree over the past 4–5 years, old, diseased and non-bearing branches are cut out. Branches without branching are shortened by 10 cm. With a new summer growth, they leave the strongest branch, which will replace the shortened one. The rest is cut off. Branches with shoots are cut to the base of the shoot. Between periods of rejuvenation, the crown is thinned, but this procedure does not contribute to the renewal of fruitful branches in old trees.

Cycle growth should be maintained, and after 5–6 years, begin to remove one skeletal branch every year, starting with the thickest. At this age, old wood ceases to give any growth, the branches are bare at the base, and the tree goes tall. To rejuvenate, lower the skeletal branch to the first horizontal growth of 2-3 years. Thus, the cherry is again displayed on a sparse-tier form.

When bearing

Sweet cherry begins to bear fruit from the 4th to 5th year of life, depending on varietal characteristics and growing conditions. By this time, the formation of the crown and appearance of the tree should be completed.

Important! Sweet cherry does not tolerate mechanical stress and damage, so it is advisable to injure the tree as little as possible after the formation of the crown.

The diagram below will tell you how to prune a fruit tree in spring:

  • the top is trimmed, maintaining the height of the tree at the level of 3–3.5 m, and the length of the skeletal branches is about 4 m;
  • branches damaged in the winter, vertically growing, as well as shoots inside the crown are removed;
  • cut intersecting, directed into the trunk and growing down branches;
  • get rid of tops and shoots in near-trunk circles.

Branches of adult cherries during fruiting can break off under the weight of berries, get damaged by strong winds or bad weather. In such cases, pruning is carried out in case of emergency and very carefully.

Video: how to form a young tree


Measures for the sanitary cleaning of the tree are aimed at removing dried and damaged weather-resistant branches. Problematic branches with signs of harmful lesions need to be cut to healthy wood, thoroughly cleaned sections and treated with antiseptic protective agents, since it is in the spring that the risk of pathogenic infections increases. Discarded material should be removed from the garden and burned.

Follow-up care

After all pruning, wait 2 days for the slices to dry. After that, they are treated with disinfectants, putty to seal the damage in order to avoid moisture loss garden varnish or paint (oil, acrylic).

Did you know? Cherry is an ancient form of cherry. In the Middle Ages they were called in one word - cerasus (cerasus), adding the word “sweet” to define sweet cherries, and “sour” to cherry.

Further care should be carried out according to the agricultural technique of cultivating cherries - watering, cultivating, removing young shoots and weeds, top dressing and pest control as necessary.

Useful tips from gardeners

For beginning gardeners, it is important to listen to the advice of experienced "colleagues":

  • spring pruning is carried out in warm, dry time at plus average daily temperatures;
  • the general pruning principle is to shorten the main skeletal branches to 50 cm, and the growth branches that are not involved in the formation of the crown to 30 cm, the main trunk should be no more than 20 cm higher than the frame branches;
  • the branches of each subsequent tier should be thinner and shorter than the branches of the lower tiers, and all branches that do not fit into this requirement must be removed;
  • to exclude rapid growth of young shoots, old branches are removed completely;
  • thinning of flower buds stimulates the growth of branches;
  • sharp angles of divergence of branches should not be allowed, which can lead to breaking of the tree and drying out;
  • it will increase fruiting and give the tree the desired shape by bending branches to a horizontal position using ropes to pegs driven into the ground;
  • if, on a year-long shoot above the kidneys, cuts along the cortex are made with a saw, new shoots grow more actively, and the growth of layering slows down due to a decrease in the influx of juices;
  • the crop is formed on branches growing parallel to the ground;
  • to improve the nutrition of the tree and the light inside the crown, it is necessary to remove the shoots near the trunk, tops, vertically growing shoots;
  • pruning after the beginning of sap flow can adversely affect the tree and lead to its death.

Properly and timely pruning can significantly increase the yield of cherries and get a beautiful tree, convenient for care and growing.

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