As we wait for spring, now is the time to prune fruit trees

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - This recent stretch of warm weather may have you thinking spring is here. Many plants and fruit trees seem to think so as well.

While we're waiting for its official start on March 20, here's how to prepare for the growing season ahead.

"I'm not sure who coined this phrase, but the weather we're having right now is called a fool's spring. We're going to have some more cold weather," said Carroll's Nursery owner David Carroll.

You may be surprised that so far this season, we've seen many nights below 45 degrees. Farmers call that a chill hour.

"Certain types of fruit need certain amount of chill hours to produce fruit. It just depends on the type of fruit tree; it will vary. Some things are low chill hours like a fig and pears," continued Carroll.

Fruit trees need cold weather. It helps them produce more fruit the following year.
The problem this year is that we haven't seen any prolonged cold periods or deep freezes below 25 degrees like we did last year.
So while we're waiting for spring, you can do some things to make those trees healthier.

"What happens if you prune it back is you get less fruit but you get a bigger quality fruit if you prune them back," said Dothan Nurseries owner John Boone. Sometimes the limbs are too long, and they haven't been cut back and the limbs will break, that kind of thing. So now is the time to prune them back a little bit."

Harvesting a successful crop also means keeping the pests away.

"if you have some of these that are susceptible to bugs and fungus, like some of the apples and peaches, you get that from time to time, then it's getting close to time to start spraying," continued Boone.

Cold weather will also help kill any bugs or fungus which could threaten your fruit.