Pruning is particularly important with fruit trees. The main purpose of pruning, particularly in apple and pear trees, is to help the tree achieve its maximum cropping potential, and best fruit quality. Pruning can also be used in conjunction with various training techniques to control the shape and growth of the tree, for ornamental effect as well as to improve fruit quality.
We provide advice on the initial pruning that is needed to help a newly-planted fruit tree establish properly, but pruning over the formative and mature years of the tree is equally important.
One of the best books about pruning is 'Pruning and Training' by Christopher Brickell and David Joyce, and published by the RHS. This book has simple diagrams showing the main pruning and training techniques for a whole range of tree forms, including standards, half-standards, bushes, as well as the more formal trained styles such as fans, espaliers, and cordons.
We also recommend 'The Apple Pruning Manual' by Roger Worraker and Malcolm Withnall. This is aimed very much at the commercial apple grower rather than the amateur, and gives a far more detailed insight into how pruning works. If you are planning a community orchard, a small hobby orchard It is well worth considering, for its insight into modern techniques which can greatly improve fruit production and fruit quality. The book costs £12 including P&P and is available directly from the authors. More details here.