Here is a picture of Dennis Riley pruning a Braeburn tree.  He is using a hydraulic backpack lopper machine.  This is the kind of work that happens every winter on the farm.  Next the prunings will be gathered in the aisles of the orchard, then pushed into piles and burned on a wet winter day.
Here is a "before pruning" picture - sorry that the light doesn't present it well!
Here is the "after pruning" picture.  This tree is not as heavily pruned as the larger trees on the farm.  Several "leaders" have been left to reach out and expand the size of the tree.  Because it is a dwarf tree, its tendency will be to remain small, so our pruning technique is to maximize its growth potential in its early years. 
Apple trees were designed
to need mankind's attention in pruning.
We prune
the trees in
February, &
March every year.
If we didn't prune the trees, the fruit would be a lot smaller & not as tasty!
We use "loppers" to do the pruning.
Here is a Rome Beauty tree before pruning.  Note all the water sprouts reaching for the sky.  This new growth is from last year and needs to be cut out.  The water sprouts grow at twice the rate of the fruiting wood and decrease the tree's capacity to produce a crop.  They are like wild growth that adds size to the tree but not production.
This picture shows another tree with the wild growth pruned away, leaving the major scaffold limbs and spur wood to produce a new crop of large fruit.  Another reason for pruning is to allow sunlight to enter the tree so the apples can ripen properly.  Also, pruning compensates for the loss of root stock due to gophers or other hazards that affect the roots. 
Often seen driving our hayride on our farm tours is Mike, whose job changes quite a bit in the winter.  Pruning is the bulk of his job in the winter months.

Mike is pruning one of our heirloom "seedling" trees that grow to huge proportions.  Most modern root stocks are not grown from seed.  Rather, they are cloned from a piece of root that has the effect of "dwarfing" the size of the tree.  When you come up in the fall, we can tell you more about these antique variety trees. 

5/6/14 The blossoms have all fallen to the ground after doing their part in creating apples for you folks to pick in the fall.  Now we are starting to see tiny little apples beginning to grow. They will be ready for you to pick in late July (tart varieties) and September / October (sweeter & later varieties).
To many ranchers, Winter is a favorite time of year, because the heart of apple cultivation is in the shaping and caring for the trees in the dormant season.
4-1-14:  McIntosh orchard in full blossom!
Dennis Riley among the blossoms, 4-1-14
McIntosh orchard in full blossom, 4-1-14, as seen through the window of our brand-new office!
Another view of our McIntosh orchard in full blossom, 4-1-14
Beautiful blossoms on one of our Winesap trees, with our cottage in the background, 4-1-14
Few things are as beneficial to a fruit tree as regular pruning.
There are nearly 1,000 different kinds of apple blossoms in the USA.
The apple blossom is the state flower for two states:  Michigan & Arkansas.
Apple Blossoms have 5 petals, and apples have 5 seeds!
The apple blossom is a member of the rose family.
The scientific name for apple blossom is Pyrus Coronaria.