When and How to Prune a Pear to Reduce SuckeringFebruary 06, 2009
Sarah from Shoreline, WA writes:
“My pear tree (unknown variety, pears are yellow) suckers like mad. I pruned last year in Feb. Should I be pruning in late summer instead? Thanks, Sarah “
Sarah, it’s difficult for me to answer your question without seeing the tree to understand its care history. But, here are some thoughts for anyone considering when to prune a pear tree:
- Improper pruning, random cuts, and over-pruning are the usual culprits I see that cause heavy suckering.
- That being said, some trees will sucker as a reaction to any type of pruning (or just because its the nature of the tree regardless of cutting). You remove a branch and the plant redirects energy toward other areas and produces more branches.
- If you know how to prune properly, and your tree is in good shape, doing some pruning in summer, rather than winter (or in addition to winter) can help reduce heavy reaction growth. By mid-summer plant growth is slowing for the season, and the tree is less likely to put on a lot of new growth. Where in spring, that’s when it goes through a growth surge — whether pruned or not.
- It is critical, whatever time of year you prune, that you make proper cuts and never top your tree.
- Do keep in mind that if you prune late in the season, your tree can still put on new growth, even as it is slowing for the season. If it puts on succulent new growth late in the season and doesn’t have time to harden this growth off before a freeze, you can end up with freeze damage, particularly on the new growth.
Thanks for writing in Sarah. I hope this helps.