We start dormant pruning our older apples from December 1st on through mid-April. We cut off suckers with excessive growth off. Some limbs are cut off to give ample spacing for good light (need light for good buds) and enable picking at harvest time. Some limbs are tipped to a good bud or weak branch going in the desired direction to contain the tree so it doesn’t invade the equipment travel lanes and depending on the training system being used, will trim to keep a Christmas tree shape in order for the tree to get good light as the sun goes across the sky.
Also, some buds or small limbs are removed to manage the crop load for even bearing crop year after year as only about 5% of the apple flowers are needed for the desired crop load. The final adjustment in crop load will be handled with chemical and hand thinning after fruitlets are 8-10 mm or more in size after we see what’s left after any spring frost events.
We will also prune off excessive sucker growth (vegetative branches growing straight up) that may happen during the summer a few weeks before harvest to help color