Augustyn Mika

Research Institute of Horticulture in Skierniewice, Poland

Zbigniew Buler

Waldemar Treder

Research Institute of Horticulture in Skierniewice, Poland


High costs of manual pruning and lack of skilled workers incline fruit growers to mechanical pruning. Mechanical pruning gives good results in the case of trees that do not require selective pruning, like citrus trees. This pruning method is also acceptable if the fruit is produced for industrial purposes. Twelve-year-old ‘Pinova’ apple trees grafted on dwarf M.9 rootstocks, spaced at 4 × 1.5 m, trained to the spindle system were mechanically pruned at the pink flower stage (first week of May) and at the fruit setting stage (first week of June). The pruning was done with a STIHL cutting bar as ‘topping’ (trimming  the tops of trees) and ‘hedging’ – pruning of trees from two sides at an angle of 70°. Before the pruning, the trees had a height of 3.5 m and over 2.0 m spread at the bottom part of tree canopy. Control trees were pruned manually using standard methods. The height of the trees was reduced with mechanical and manual pruning to 2.5 m, and the
spread to 2 m at the base of tree canopy. During the three years of the trial, mechanical pruning significantly altered the canopy structure. It developed into a continuous, compact wall without any openings along the row. In the same time, hand pruned trees had free openings in the upper part of tree canopies. Mechanically pruned trees had lower solar irradiation levels than manually pruned trees. In the third year, the trees pruned mechanically gave higher yields than the trees pruned manually, but fruit size, mean fruit weight and the area of the red blush were significantly decreased. The trial indicated that mechanical
pruning of apple trees must be supplemented by hand pruning. More attention is also needed to fruit thinning when trees are pruned mechanically.


growth regulation, canopy structure and illumination

Baldini, E. (1970). Meccanizzare la potatura e la raccolta. L’Italia agricola, 5, 411–416.
Baldini, E. (1974). Trends in training systems for deciduous fruit trees. XIX-th International Horticultural Congress, Warszawa 11–18 September, 3, 117–136.
Bordas, M., Torrents, J., Arenas, F.J., Hervalejo, A. (2012). High density plantation system of the Spanish citrus industry. Acta Hort., 965, 123–130.
Childers, N.F. (1983). Modern fruit science. Horticultural Publication. Gainesville. Florida 32606, 583 p.
Dias, A.B., Peca, J.O., Pinheiro, A. (2012). Long-term evaluation of the influence of mechanical pruning on olive growing. Agron. J., 104 (1), 22–25.
Ferguson, L., Glozer, K., Crisosto, C., Rosa, U.A., Castro-Garcia, S., Fichtner, E.J., Guinard, J.X., Lee, S.M., Krueger, W.H., Miles, J.A., Burns, J.K. (2012). Improving canopy contact olive harvester efficiency with mechanical pruning. Acta Hort., 965, 83–87.
Jackson, J.E., Sharples, R.O., Palmer, J.W. (1971). The influence of shade within tree position on apple fruit size, color and storage quality. J. Hort. Sci., 46, 277–287.
Krueger, W.H., Niederholzer, F.J.A., Fichtner, E. (2013). Investigation of pruning strategies for dried plums including hand, mechanical and combinations. Acta Hort., 985, 201–207.
Loreti, F. (1971). Prospettive della potatura meccanizzata negli alberi da frutto. Riv. Ortoflorofrutt. It., 3, 213–229.
Mika, A. (1986). Physiological responses of fruit trees to pruning. Hort. Rev., 8, 337–378.
Mika, A., Buler, Z., Treder, W., Sopyła, C. (2002). Relationship between fruit distribution within ʽJonagold’ apple canopy, fruit quality and illumination. J. Fruit Ornam. Plant Res., 10, 75–84.
Scaramuzzi, F. (1968). Evoluzione nella potatura degli alberi da frutto. L’Italia Agric., 1, 71–85.


Augustyn Mika 
Research Institute of Horticulture in Skierniewice, Poland
Zbigniew Buler 
Waldemar Treder 
Research Institute of Horticulture in Skierniewice, Poland



Articles are made available under the conditions CC BY 4.0 (until 2020 under the conditions CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).
Submission of the paper implies that it has not been published previously, that it is not under consideration for publication elsewhere.

The author signs a statement of the originality of the work, the contribution of individuals, and source of funding.


Most read articles by the same author(s)