"Should we take the tallest branch off - or maybe the one that is dragging on the ground?"
"No, we should definitely take the whole top of the tree off."
"No, not the whole top...that is going to be too much. Let's just take the tallest branch off."
"We should take off the ones dragging on the ground."
"Maybe we should just cut the whole thing down and sell the apple wood?"
After this deliberation, it was decided to cut off the whole top off of this tree. This poor tree looked like a Charlie Brown apple tree...basically a trunk and a few measly limbs. We monitored this tree in the spring and actually expected it might just need to be totally cut down. To our surprise, it lived through the winter prune job and even produced some apples in the fall of 2017.
In the winter of 2018, this old tree got another good pruning and more top branches were removed.
Now, in the summer of 2018, this old McIntosh tree looks beautiful. Well, actually it looks kind of strange as it still has no top, but the branches that are dripping with ripening apples look beautiful! In six years, this is the most apples I have EVER seen on this tree. The explanation that we have all come up with is this tree owes it's life to the pruning it has received the past two winters. With the useless limbs gone, old McIntosh has been free to put it's energy back into fruit production. So when you are considering how much to prune this winter, remember the pruning crew's motto, "When in doubt, cut it out!" - and get ready to harvest some fruits of your labor.