I have 9 apple trees in my orchard, and a small tree in each of my chicken runs, plus two new crab apple trees in my vegetable plot.
I inherited 6 small trees, grown on dwarf stock, and these trees need pruning every winter other wise they get out of hand and end up growing nothing but new branches and plenty of leaves and no fruit.
Of the other three trees, one is a crab apple, bought in to aid pollenation, most apple trees need a pollinator which can be another apple tree that blossoms at the same time or the crab apple which tends to have an extended blossom period. The other two trees are large trees and other than keeping them tidy will be allowed to reach their full height!
When we first inherited these trees we decided to go on a course that would show us how to prune apple trees properly, and although I can remember the basics, I am still not 100% sure that I do it right!
We are pruning back to fruiting spurs, the fruiting buds are bigger then the leaf buds, and they appear on a short spur, and so all of the growth from the leaf buds will just use up energy that the tree needs to prodcue apples. So, we prune back all of the previous years growth to where the fruiting spurs are, so that the blossom has the best chance of being pollinated, and the apples have chance to take hold before the tree does indeed start producing leab-ves and new brabch griwth!
We have been doing this for about 6 years now, and for sure we are getting better fruit production for our efforts.
Here is one of the trees before pruning.
And here is oine of the pruned tree!
A bit different isn't it!