Should I prune the new shoots of my young pear tree?


I have a McLaughlin Pear tree that I did not prune well in the spring, before the leaves emerged. It is now early June, and the three-year old pear has several shoots growing rapidly that are very low to the ground. Is it best to let it grow and prune these off next spring? I would rather not have the tree put its energy into branches I know will eventually be removed because they are too low, but I wasn’t sure if it would hurt the tree to prune it now that it is growing well. The tree is only about 40″ inches tall at this time. The branches I am questioning are the ones that start just 4-5 inches above the graft.

pear tree
Photo used with permission from client.


Liz Stanley, Horticulture Community Education Assistant

As long as those two lower branches are healthy and above the graft line, it’s OK to leave them to photosynthesize this season. If the tree puts on some good top growth this year, you can remove them in early spring.

If you choose to remove the two lower branches now, you might get more growth at the top of the tree. Much depends on how well-established the roots are.

Next season, you’ll also need to choose which of the two top branches will be the tree’s central leader. It looks like the one on the left has some dead tissue. Dead, damaged or diseased wood is always fine to remove at any time of year. Also suckers below the graft.

In the meantime, it looks like you’ve done a good job mulching to prevent competition from weeds, and fencing to deter deer.  Some of the other enemies of pears: PorcupinesBrowntail MothPear Slugs and Blister Mites. Scouting is important to do frequently.

More about growing pears at our website Growing Fruit Trees in Maine.