by: Tabatha Nethken, Jack Begej

Pruning of fruit trees often is done in the winter months. That is an old tradition. Jack Bigej (pronounced Big-gy) has a simple explanation for it.

Bigej, who works at Al's Garden Center on Roy Rogers Road, said that most orchard owners and workers were too busy in the summer to prune a fruit tree. He said that as long as a gardner has the time, there is no time limit to pruning.

'As long as the wood is smaller than your thumb, prune it anytime,' he said.

Al's Garden Center is hosting its annual fruit tree pruning seminar with Larry Wright Sat., Jan. 19, 16920 SW Roy Rogers, Sherwood at 1 p.m. and Sat., Jan. 19 1220 N. Pacific Highway, Woodburn at 10 a.m.

Attend this class and learn how to prune fruit trees for a better crop and healthier trees.

Wright brings in fruit tree branches for viewing and shows the difference between fruit spurs and watershoots.

Bigej said, 'He will explain what to prune and what not to prune off. Keep the size of the tree where you can handle it, get it down to size where you can pick the fruit.'

One of the most popular fruit bearing plants bought for backyards in Oregon is the blueberry bush.

However, the bush takes about 8 years to mature to the point where it provides fruit in good quantities.

'A mature bush will produce about 20 pounds of blueberries,' said Bigej. 'equally shared with the birds.'

He said that the seminar will give a person a real good idea of how to prune fruit trees and it is one of the largest attended classes they hold.

In February they will have classes on the care of small fruits like blueberries, grapes and raspberries. He added, 'don't skip pruning, you'll pay for it. Prune every year to shape the plant and to control it. If you don't it just becomes twice the problem the next year.'

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