We promised to do a fact sheet for you to look at when it comes to winter pruning but we have included a video below, and will cover some of the things you need to know in this post.
You need only a limited amount of equipment to winter prune an orchard that has been maintained: (1) a bag for all the cuttings (do not leave them on the ground, see video below for why), (2) long-handled loppers for thicker branches, you can also use a tree or branch saw for older orchards, (3) a sharp pair of secateurs, and; (4) gloves.
There are reasons for winter pruning, winter pruning stimulates growth compared to late summer pruning which maintains the shape and size of a tree (you find this happening mainly with tree forms like cordon, espalier and fan). A tree will naturally reach for the blue sky and that means you can have branches that carry little or no fruit along the length of the branch. When trees are placed in a cordon or espalier, you place the branches under stress and each bud breaks into spurs, which bear fruit. However, a standard tree isn't under stress, and will just keep on growing and each bud will form leaves or branches but may not create spurs for fruit. By pruning you maintain the shape of a tree but also convince it to create more spurs along its length. Winter pruning is also a chance to cut out rotten wood, infected wood and branches that cross with each other. It's also a chance to push the crown of the tree up and open up the centre of the tree into a goblet shape. See the video below, which will cover the basics of pruning and how pruning back to a bud will stimulate that bud to become a new branch and all the buds beneath to become side shoots or spurs. You can find the complete New Gardener Series here.