Every gardener does it. We get so excited about impending fruit that we don’t do what’s best for the tree. We see all those tiny blossoms, then tiny orbs, and we stop using our rational brain in hopes of more, more, more. Thinning fruit from our fruit trees ensures larger fruit and a healthier tree. Young trees often become misshapen when they are laden down with more fruit than their branches can bear. So let’s review techniques for thinning fruit trees.
Here’s what happens when you want don’t thin your apple tree:
Don’t get me wrong, every one of those apples was delicious. They were just right for an Alice in Wonderland movie. This year we’ll do things differently.
Apple experts recommend thinning fruit to 1 or 2 per cluster of fruit. Use the iron fist of pruning, as we say, and get the job done.
Use shears or simply pinch off the fruit, just be sure to use two hands so you don’t pull off the whole cluster. Also use this time to remove any blossoms that didn’t set fruit (brown debris in the center of the cluster above). Thin out center fruit and leave the outer. By the time the apples reach full size, they’ll be touching.
If you notice any branches weighed down by fruit, take the time to tie the branches for training, so they’ll grow straight. Apples have a tendency to grow straight up, so we’ve tied down a few scaffold branches to train them outward. Other branches are dipping down, so we’ll tie those up.
As fruit matures, the remaining fruit will grow larger. You’re trees will be happier in the long run. Use this technique for stone fruits, apples, pears and citrus (if needed).
A parting note about thinning fruit trees: when you plant a new tree, remove all the fruit. You heard me–all of it. We want the tree to focus on root production, not fruit production. Give your tree the boost it needs in the beginning and it will reward you with fruit for years to come.