The time to prune fruit trees has almost arrived and farmers and home gardeners should take care how it's done, a Utah State University fruit specialist says.

"Pruning reduces the hardiness of some fruit species," Anthony Hatch said. "Those with just a few trees should wait to prune until the coldest part of winter has passed."Commercial growers, however, will need to start pruning as soon as possible, Hatch said, to be finished in time for spring growth.

"First prune the more cold-tolerant species, such as apples and pears," he said, "leaving until last the more cold-sensitive species, such as peaches and nectarines."

USU horticulturist Bill Varga said there are several pruning techniques to produce healthy buds and quality fruit.

"Prune mature trees more heavily, especially if they've shown little growth," Varga said. "And prune the top portion of the tree more than the lower portion."