Pruning removes unwanted wood from the tree and, even though retention of dead and decaying wood within an orchard is encouraged to maximise biodiversity value, fruit trees in a traditional orchard still need regular maintenance or restorative pruning.
Pruning will keep the tree in good health: branches which cross and rub against each other are likely to cause wounds through which disease can enter. Pruning will ensure that good amounts of light are able to reach all the growing parts of the tree, promoting the growth of leaves and the formation of blossom and fruit.
Careful pruning will maintain the balance of the branches within the crown, reducing the risk of damage to the tree from inclement weather or simply gravity.
Natural England have published a number of guides to pruning at different life stages of the tree: