Normally I tackle this when the first hints of mild weather hit in February, but having had my nose buried in seed catalogs for a while, it was nice to get out in the garden buried in snow [see below] and do a job that needed doing for the coming growing season. My objective with my apple is to clear out the center, remove any waterspouts, truncate the branches that are getting too long, and clean up any wood that is overcrowding, overlapping, or otherwise offending a neighboring branch. The problem is, I find pruning akin to harvesting berries – I get into a zone of obsession. Just a little bit more. Just one more. Until there’s a serious pile of branches on the ground.
My second problem is that I then am unmotivated to clean up the mess. I think today was the first day ever that I actually cut up the wood the day I pruned, and stacked it neatly, ready for future use. Having run very short on apple wood to smoke with, I was very pleased to stack up a good pile of sticks that should last me the next year or more when smoking bacon, jerky, etc.
An advantage to pruning this year: were I to have fallen off my ladder, I would have fallen into 3′ of fluffy snow.